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Carbon Monoxide Leak Sickens 78 People, Prompts Evacuation of School

By Heather Cherone | October 30, 2015 11:09am | Updated on October 30, 2015 12:40pm
 Prussing Elementary Schoolin Jefferson Park.
Prussing Elementary Schoolin Jefferson Park.
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DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

JEFFERSON PARK — A carbon monoxide leak at Prussing Elementary School in Jefferson Park forced the evacuation of the Jefferson Park school and sent 71 students and 7 adults to local hospitals, fire officials said Friday.

Students at Prussing Elementary, 4650 N. Menard Ave. were evacuated after the leak was discovered before 9:30 a.m. after a student began complaining of headache, nausea and dizziness, said Assistant Deputy Fire Commissioner Mark Nielsen.

Firefighters discovered dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide in the building when they arrived, Nielsen said.

None of the injuries are considered life threatening, and all of the students and adults were conscious and alert when taken to more than a half-dozen local hospitals. However, some were too dizzy or light headed to walk and had to be carried, Nielsen said.

Parents were informed of the evacuation by automated phone calls, and all students are accounted for, according to the message from Principal George Chipain.

Uninjured students were taken to Smyser Elementary School, 4310 N. Melvia Ave.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can include headaches, weakness, dizziness and nausea. Significant poisoning can result in vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision and loss of consciousness.

Officials with People's Gas are checking to see whether the school's boiler was the source of the carbon monoxide leak, or if there was an obstruction in the ventilation system, Nielsen said. 

Chicago Public Schools officials did not immediately respod to a request for comment.

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