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Carbon monoxide leak sickens dozens in New York City

NEW YORK -- A carbon monoxide leak coupled with a suspicious package scare prompted a massive response from police officers and firefighters in New York on Tuesday.

CBS New York reports dozens of fire crews rushed to the scene of a reported carbon monoxide leak around 8:30 a.m. in a TriBeCa neighborhood.

Emergency responders immediately began evacuating the building and treating people for exposure on the street. Firefighters said high level of carbon monoxide were found in the basement to the third floor of the 12-story luxury apartment building, which is located above a market.

Thirty-two people were transported to local hospitals. Most of the injuries were considered to be relatively minor.

Authorities say some market employees passed out on the basement and first floor.

"The levels of CO were consistent with them definitely passing out after two or three breaths," FDNY Chief of Department James Leonard said.

Witnesses described a woman passing out after a worker opened a box in the basement, which caused suspicions of a possible connection.

"A male worker was opening up the box and about 10 feet away there was a female worker by the bathroom that fainted and he associated her fainting with the opening of that box, not knowing that it was actually carbon monoxide," Chief Of Manhattan Detectives William Aubry said.

The NYPD's bomb squad and emergency service units went in and deemed the package was not hazardous.

A preliminary investigation revealed the box contained salad bowls, which had been delivered to the location the day before from Brooklyn.

Fire officials say a defective boiler in the basement is to blame for the carbon monoxide leak. A broken pipe producing the gas has since been capped and carbon monoxide levels are dropping.

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