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Carbon monoxide leak at day care center in Allentown injures 25 children

None of the injuries at the Happy Smiles Learning Center in Allentown were considered serious, authorities said.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — An apparent carbon monoxide leak at a Pennsylvania day care center sent about two dozen children and several staff members to the hospital early Tuesday, but none of the injuries were considered serious, authorities said.

Emergency responders went to the Happy Smiles Learning Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on reports of an unconscious child. The building was evacuated after air quality detectors worn by firefighters were triggered.

The 25 children were being evaluated at the hospital, and all were listed as stable, authorities said. Eight staffers were also in the building.

The leak was caused by a malfunctioning heating unit and a blocked venting system, investigators said. They noted the building did not have carbon monoxide detectors, which will be required for child care facilities under a new state law that has not fully taken effect yet.

The sites are in the midst of a 30-day compliance period to have the detectors installed, and Happy Smiles owner Jesenia Gautreaux said the work will be done at her business.

Jimmy Jackson owns Kula Children's Center nearby. He opened up to families who needed a place to go while the incident was being investigated.

"We opened our doors immediately. They're our neighbors. It's children first and foremost. They're our neighbors. We understand. Thank God it wasn't us, but unfortunately, it happened to them," Jimmy Jackson said.

City officials tell Newswatch 16 the building didn't have working carbon monoxide detectors, but they weren't required by the city to have them yet."

In February, the city of Allentown passed an ordinance requiring carbon monoxide detectors in day cares, but it doesn't take effect until October 27.

"Carbon monoxide detectors should be in your air system," Jackson said. "You should have that anyway. That shouldn't be a law; that should be something from a moral standpoint."

According to a deputy fire chief, all the children taken to hospitals are expected to recover.

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