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Seven treated after furnace problem at Job Corps

January 29, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Seven people from Harpers Ferry Job Corps were taken to Jefferson Memorial Hospital Sunday afternoon after youths there possibly inhaled smoke from a furnace malfunction, a fire official said.

Fire officials were notified of the incident about 12:30 p.m. and when fire crews arrived at the center, light smoke could be seen outside a women's dormitory, said Ed Smith, chief of Independent Fire Co.

A room that housed a furnace had heavy soot in it and it appears that smoke extended into the dormitory, Smith said.

Firefighters responding to the Job Corps on Job Corps Road north of Charles Town were met by students who complained of feeling dizzy and having shortness of breath, Smith said.

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Seven people were taken to Jefferson Memorial Hospital for evaluation. Teresa McCabe, hospital spokeswoman, said Sunday afternoon that the seven were treated and released.

Fire officials examined an oil-burning furnace at the Job Corps and it was "extremely dirty. It looked like it needed a good cleaning," Smith said. A chimney was also dirty, Smith said.

It appeared the furnace tried to light but failed, Smith said. In those types of cases, a lot of fuel can build up in the furnace and a small explosion can occur when the furnace finally lights, Smith said.

A maintenance worker arrived at the scene to assess the situation, Smith said.

Students 16- to 24-years old learn trades in carpentry, brickwork or computer at the Job Corps. Many of the students are from inner cities, officials said.

The center, which is on about 77 acres, was serving about 166 students as of early last year

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