Noxious Fumes At Oahu School Baffle Fire Fighters

Sister M. Davilyn Ah Chick
Sister M. Davilyn Ah Chick
Cecil Galang
Cecil Galang

By Paul Drewes

(KHNL) - Fire investigators are baffled over a hazardous materials scare at a West O'ahu school that sent nearly two dozen students to the hospital.

When noxious fumes swept through the Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, it was a real-life safety lesson.

After a van catches on fire in the parking lot and fire crews put out the flames, the school is shut down.

"I knew it was a potential health hazard because the fumes were coming out, so I did our emergency plan and everyone evacuated to the church," says the school principal, Sister M. Davilyn Ah Chick.

But what was not part of the plan, was students suffering from symptoms that were serious enough, they were loaded onto a city bus to be taken to the hospital.

"We noticed some of our students were more affected by the fumes, they had symptoms of nausea and burning eyes," says Ah Chick.

Anxious parents, first notified of a nearby fire, now had new concerns.

"My daughter called me and said a car exploded and then she called back and said they're taking my son to the hospital," says Ewa Beach parent, Cecil Galang.

A total of 21 students and 2 adults go to St. Francis West and are treated for propane inhalation.

Back at the school, hazardous materials crews check out the air quality and are unable to pinpoint the cause of this problem.

"What we don't know is, if the auto fire caused kids to be sick. Because the smell of propane was there at 10 in the morning. Our tests came back negative, there was nothing in the air to cause children to be sick," says Captain Kenison Tejada of the Honolulu Fire Department.

While fire crews were not able to learn where the mysterious fumes came from, there will be learning at this Ewa Beach school again on Thursday.

"We did have Haz-Mat team come in and check the air they said it was 100% clear so we will be resuming school tomorrown" says Ah Chick.

As for the students that went to the hospital, they were all treated and released by the evening.