4 Texas children die after being poisoned by pesticide gas; six other family members hospitalized

File photo of police lights

Credit: DodgertonSkillhause/Morguefile

Credit: DodgertonSkillhause/Morguefile

File photo of police lights

Four children in an Amarillo, Texas, home were killed Monday when a poisonous gas was created when someone mixed water with a pesticide that had been placed underneath their home.


The Associated Press reports:

State and federal officials are working on a decontamination plan for an Amarillo, Texas, mobile home where phosphine gas killed four children and left their mother in critical condition.

Chip Orton, emergency management coordinator for the city of Amarillo and Potter and Randall counties, says his staff is working with a number of state and federal agencies to decontaminate the home. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has hired a private contractor to help.

Fire officials say the father spread a commercial grade pest control pellet under the house and tried to wash some of it away with a garden hose. Poisonous phosphine gas was released as a result.

Orton says the gas typically casts off in about eight to 12 hours after it's been in contact with water, but personnel close to the home are wearing protective breathing equipment and hazmat suits as a precaution.

Police officials in Texas say a criminal investigation is underway into an accidental poisoning involving pesticide that killed four children and left their mother in critical condition.

Amarillo Fire Capt. Larry Davis said Tuesday that the father told first responders he had spread a professional grade pest control pellet under the family's mobile home. Authorities later determined that phosphine gas was likely released when the father used a garden hose on Sunday to try to wash away the pesticide.

Davis says a professional certification or license is required to purchase the product, called Weevil-Cide. He says the father does not have that license. The father told first responders through an interpreter that he obtained the pesticide from a friend.

Police spokesman Officer Jeb Hilton says the department's special crimes unit is investigating because children were involved.