Chlorine cloud prompts school evacuation
A chlorine cloud at a Niagara Falls middle school prompted an evacuation of the building Monday morning. YNN's Antoinette DelBel has more on what caused the cloud of chemicals to fill the school's basement and what measures were taken to ensure students were safe.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — Hazmat crews and dozens of firemen from the Niagara Falls Fire Department were called to Gaskill Preparatory School around 9:30 Monday morning.
Middle school students, faculty and staff were evacuated shortly after due to what officials describe as a "chlorine cloud." It formed in the basement of the school after a maintenance worker mixed together the wrong chemicals for the pool.
"By accident he poured muriatic acid into the liquid container holding chlorine that gets pumped into the pool through the filter," said Fire Chief Thomas Colangelo.
As a safety measure, half of the 500 students were evacuated to Hyde Park Elementary School down the street from the middle school, while the other half walked to the former 24th Street School around the block.
"Within 20 minutes we had the building empty - the students and the staff at their pre-ordained evacuation sites. That went smoothly," said Judie Glaser, the communications director for the Niagara Falls City School District.
Glaser said an automated message went out to parents notifying them of the evacuation and that the school would follow up with another phone call telling them which school to pick their child up from.
However, she said before some parents received that second phone call, they showed up to the middle school wondering where their child was.
That's when the school's principal stepped in redirecting parents to the right evacuation site.
"Mr. Bradley was very helpful and let me know she's down there and she's safe. He called to verify that and she was there," said Dave Huffman, whose step-daughter goes to Gaskill Prep.
Fire crews said the chemicals’ levels were not high enough to be flammable and they had the bleach-like smell out of the school by 1 p.m. Monday.
Glaser said no one was harmed, however two maintenance workers were sent to the hospital to be checked.
School will be back in session Tuesday morning.