Racine school evacuates after natural gas scare


by Lane Kimble

RACINE -- It seems simply preparing for winter forced around 1,000 students, teachers and staff outside of Jerstad-Agerholm Middle and Elementary schools Wednesday morning.

Teachers on the building's elementary side smelled natural gas and alerted the office around 8:30 a.m.

Administrators evacuated the building as a precaution.  The fire department WE Energies responded soon after.

They discovered maintenance had recently fired up the boiler heat system.  That system naturally vents gas upon start-up.  Wind pushed the vented gas back into the school's air intake, causing the smell.

The building was deemed all-clear after about 45 minutes.  EMS teams checked out teachers and students to make sure there were no signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Principal Doug Clum thought his students and staff handled things perfectly.

"This is not the way i like to start a school day, but we got through it OK," Clum said.   "Kids need to know that these kinds of things happen and they need to react maturely and they did that.  They need to react seriously and they did that.  I'm proud of them."

Clum told CBS-58 they haven't had the chance to practice a fire drill yet this year, so the fact everything went so smoothly shows how well his staff works and his students listen.


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