NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – The Hallen School in New Rochelle was forced to evacuate students and cancel classes for the day Wednesday after a malfunctioning heating unit emitted low levels of carbon monoxide.
The scare happened shortly after 9 a.m. on Wednesday, when a fire alarm evacuated all 325 students - and an unknown number of staff - at the alternate education school. The New Rochelle Fire Department was promptly on scene to evaluate the situation.
Using gas meters, fire officials found the leak in the gym and put a box clamp on the unit. Less than an hour after responding, the gas levels in the gym were down to less than one part per million, which is nearly insignificant, according to officials.
New Rochelle Fire Department Capt. Donald Bradley noted that the school was closing as more of a precaution than anything.
"Our companies responded and using gas meters found elevated levels in the gym, which has since dropped, but they're going to send the kids home for the day as a precaution,” he said. “The gas is down to one parts per million, but we'd like it to be zero."
School officials refused comments, but said that the students were all safe, parents were notified and transportation had been arranged. Students were allowed back in the building to wait for the busses, but were refused access to the upper levels where the leak occurred.
Bradley said the fire department called in Con Edison officials as backup, but the situation was quickly under wraps.
“It’s a toxic gas, and it can make kids sick or cause death with high enough levels, so we’re taking it seriously,” he said. “We called in Con Edison, because they also have extra sensitive gas meters, but it’s down low enough that the kids can get inside and wait for the bus.”