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Toxic fumes in Warde science lab trigger haz-mat response

Published 2:24 pm, Friday, December 7, 2012
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Fumes from chemicals mixed in a science lab at Fairfield Warde High School on Friday morning triggered a hazardous-materials response by local and state emergency services, but officials said there was no serious fallout from the incident.

Firefighters and personnel from the state Department Energy and Environmental Protection were dispatched to the high school shortly after 11 a.m. after the town Emergency Communications Center received a call reporting that "a small quantity" of potassium chloride, sodium chloride, sodium iodide and benzoic acid may have combined during a routine classroom heating process, according to Assistant Fire Chief Chris Tracy, shift commander on the scene.

The incident took place earlier in the morning, responders were told by school officials, and that four students along with their teacher had been checked and released by the school nurse after complaining of sore throats, Tracy said.

"Really, really routine things when you smell noxious fumes," he said. "It could have been worse, but fortunately it wasn't."

The teacher and students were also checked by a paramedic on the scene before being released with the recommendation of followup with their personal physicians.

Precautionary measures by firefighters, including controlled entry and metering, found no contamination or chemical products in the lab, which had been aired out during the earlier class, according to a release from Tracy.

No evacuation of the school was required, and classes were not significantly disrupted, officials said.