Crews respond to carbon monoxide leak at Jefferson High School

February 10, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. - Firefighters were called to Jefferson High School Monday afternoon to deal with carbon monoxide in the building, officials said.

At about 4:15 p.m., people were starting to cough at the school along Flowing Springs Road, Principal Susan Wall said.

Officials detected a small amount of carbon monoxide in the building, Wall said.

Firefighters determined the carbon monoxide was coming from a heating unit on the roof of the school, said Ed Smith, chief of the Independent Fire Co.

Carbon monoxide was being blown into a classroom after a heating coil in the unit shorted, Smith said.

School officials initially believed the carbon monoxide may have been coming from some external propane tanks that recently were filled, but they later determined that was not the cause, Smith said.


Carbon monoxide is a gas that is produced as a result of burning fossil fuels, Smith said. Although carbon monoxide can be fatal if high concentrations of it are inhaled, the carbon monoxide levels in Jefferson High were at very low levels and did not present a threat to anyone, Smith said.

Smith said he did not see any carbon monoxide detectors in the school.

Most students had left the school for the day when the carbon monoxide was discovered, Wall said.

While fire crews were at the scene, they also found a leaking propane line on the roof of the school, Smith said.

The gas was leaking through an opening about the size of a "pin hole," Smith said. The gas line was turned off until it can be repaired, Smith said.

An assistant principal at the school said the building's facilities are overall in good shape. The school's heating units were replaced in the summer of 2002, said Richard Jenkins.

All five of Jefferson County's volunteer fire companies responded to the school to help determine the source of the carbon monoxide, Smith said.

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