Lonnie Wimmer, a Lewisville firefighter, was celebrating a friend's 30th birthday at River Ridge Taphouse on Saturday night when he noticed several people who appeared to be suffering the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
"People came up to us and they had headaches and were feeling nauseous, Wimmer said. "Others were feeling intoxicated and had blurred vision."
Wimmer, a native of East Bend, and his wife were at the restaurant to celebrate the birthday of the wife of Ricky Leonard, the Yadkin County fire marshal.
Wimmer and Leonard quickly determined that people were showing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and Wimmer called the Lewisville Fire Department for help at about 9 p.m.
Wimmer himself had blurred vision, a headache and felt nauseous, he said.
Lewisville firefighters and Forsyth County EMS arrived the scene.
The restaurant was evacuated and paramedics treated about 30 people for exposure to carbon monoxide, said Steve Williams, an assistant fire chief with the Lewisville Fire Department. Wimmer and his wife were treated at the scene and later evaluated at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center before being released, he said.
A total of 16 people were taken to Wake Forest Baptist and Forsyth medical centers for treatment. All have been released from the hospitals, Williams said.
The source of the carbon monoxide exposure was the restaurant's natural gas heating system, Williams said.
Jenna Edwards, a manager at the restaurant, said Monday that the Taphouse employees had no idea that carbon monoxide was spreading throughout the building Saturday night. About 100 patrons were inside the restaurant at the time.
"You can't see it, and you can't smell it," she said of carbon monoxide. "We had no idea of what was going on."
After its patrons were evacuated, the restaurant closed, Edwards said. It reopened at 11 a.m. Sunday. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday. Its hours are extended on Fridays and Saturdays.
Correction: Previous versions of this story misspelled Lonnie Wimmer's name.