Duo Accused of Releasing Toxic Fumes into Apartment in Attempt to Get High

DUBOIS – Two people are facing charges for allegedly releasing toxic fumes into an apartment in an attempt to get high.

Andrea E. Harrison, 35, of DuBois is charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, smell/inhale toxic releasing substances and possessing solvent for releasing toxic vapors/fumes while Bernard Lee Smith, 38, of Falls Creek is charged with disorderly conduct for an incident on Jan. 3 at Harrison’s apartment.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, police were called to a third-floor apartment on East Long Avenue for a report of a domestic disturbance because someone had heard a woman yelling “help me!”

When police arrived, Smith met them at the door and Harrison was in the bedroom. The small apartment reportedly had a blueish haze/fog with a strong noxious chemical smell that filled the entire residence.

Smith allegedly stated that he had punctured starter fluid cans so Harrison could “huff” the fumes. She then admitted to using the fumes to get high, according to the report.

Police say they found two empty starter fluid canisters with puncture holes and a third canister with a dent and scrape, which appeared to have been caused by a failed attempt at puncturing it.

There was a natural gas space heater with a burning pilot light in the apartment.

It is noted in the complaint that starter fluid is “an extremely gaseous substance used to aid in the combustion of an engine in the automotive industry.”

Both canisters warn of the flammable nature of the product and caution users to “use only in a well-ventilated area away from an open flame.”

The area was aired out as the flame and gas supply was turned off.

Area fire department personnel were called to assess the safety of the building, which has a total of three apartments.

As they arrived, they were able to smell the noxious gas, but the concentration was either not dense enough to register on their gas meter or the meters were not designed to detect the specific elements of the starter fluid, according to the complaint.

Harrison and Smith are both scheduled for preliminary hearings on Feb. 7 at District Judge Patrick Ford’s office.

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