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Cleveland Heights music venue temporarily closed after reported carbon monoxide leak

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Posted at 5:21 PM, May 17, 2022

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — A Cleveland Heights music and entertainment venue is closed until further notice after fire officials said a carbon monoxide leak over the weekend potentially put the safety of patrons and staff at risk.

Wrapped in caution tape and adorned with bright orange notices, Front Stage Multiplex Center, which occupies the former Regal Cinema theater at Severance Town Center, was temporarily closed by fire inspectors and building officials after Saturday night’s reported gas leak. Officials said one person, a member of the jazz band that had been performing at the venue, was taken to the hospital. However, it is unclear if the band member was specifically sickened by the carbon monoxide leak or whether the deadly gas exacerbated pre-existing conditions.

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When paramedics arrived on scene Saturday night, the carbon monoxide meters affixed to their medical bags immediately went into high alert upon entering the lobby of the theater, Chief Dave Freeman said. At the time of their arrival, there were around 20 people still inside, although there had been as many as 200 patrons earlier in the evening.

“They discovered levels of anywhere from 250 to 350 parts per million, which is dangerous. Typically, after an hour or so, it’s going to cause some very severe symptoms,” Chief Freeman said.

Paramedics then called for additional fire personnel to arrive on scene in order to determine the cause of the carbon monoxide leak and the remaining patrons at the venue were evacuated. Eventually, officials reported finding the apparent culprit: three gas-powered generators in a partially-enclosed, outdoor service area that were being used to provide additional power needed for the band’s performance. The carbon monoxide levels in this area could quickly turn deadly in a matter of minutes, Chief Freeman said.

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“They were running power to the venue for this band that they had there. Apparently, the load was too significant for the power that they had available. They brought in these auxiliary generators to pick up the slack so the concert could go on,” Chief Freeman said. “The level in that area was over 1000 [parts per million]. Anything at that level, anything 800 and above can actually have some very, very serious effects in just minutes.”

For reference, OSHA’s maximum allowable concentration for continuous exposure to carbon monoxide in any 8-hour period is 50 parts per million.

“I would say it’s very, very fortunate that it wasn’t worse. It could have been horrific,” Chief Freeman said. “Those are the kinds of levels that can produce fatal effects in only minutes. It’s very dangerous.”

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Front Stage’s owner, Solomon Doibo, declined an on-camera interview Tuesday afternoon. Although he acknowledged Saturday’s incident, Doibo downplayed the likelihood of the band member being sickened by the carbon monoxide and, instead, theorized that it was the result of a pre-existing medical condition. The band member could not be reached for comment.

Doibo said he is working to get the venue back open as soon as possible.