A 54-year-old man died in Three Fathom Harbour, N.S., Sunday morning after he apparently breathed in carbon monoxide from a generator used for heat during a power outage.

Police say Winston Fearon and a 32-year-old woman, who was staying at the home in the fishing community on the eastern shore of the Halifax Regional Municipality, both became very ill after they were exposed to the fumes.

Fearon lost consciousness, but the woman was able to call 911 about 5:30 a.m. AT.

When paramedics arrived, the woman was outside. Firefighters were called to enter the home to rescue Fearon.

They were both taken to the Dartmouth General Hospital, where Fearon later died, police said.

The woman has recovered and is in fair condition.

Police are treating the death as accidental, but an investigation is underway. An autopsy was conducted Sunday, but more tests are needed to determine the cause of death, they said.

A relative at the home Sunday afternoon requested privacy on behalf of the family.

"I just feel so bad," said neighbour Kim Russell. "Here was a man in the prime of his life actually, a beautiful home, beautiful scenery and he's gone."

Generators common in rural community 

Russell's husband, Wayne, told CBC News the power went out about 5:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Power failures are not uncommon in the rural community, located about 45 minutes east of Halifax, he said, and many people have backup generators.

But most people know not to start them indoors, Russell said. "You can see where if you had it in a closed area...it's the same as backing a vehicle up and sticking the exhaust pipe in here."

Fearon worked at a car dealer and likely knew the dangers of combustion engines, he added.

Some area residents are wondering if Fearon's generator, which was located in the basement, was hooked up to a ventilating system that malfunctioned.

Meanwhile, Paul Maynard of Nova Scotia's Emergency Health Services is reminding people that gas-powered generators should not be used indoors.

But if they are used, they should be in properly ventilated areas and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed, he said.