Fumes cause evacuation of Tacoma school

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TACOMA, Wash. -  Dozens of students and staff members at a Tacoma elementary school were evaluated by firefighters, and some were taken to hospitals after feeling dizzy and nauseous.

At 9:34 a.m. Friday, firefighters responded after students reported feeling sick from an unknown odor at Edison Elementary.

Tacoma firefighters arrived and noticed a heavy odor in the building.  They quickly upgraded the incident to a hazardous materials mass casualty incident, bringing numerous resources to the scene. 

A triage center was set up in the playground while the school was evacuated.

Medics evaluated about 50 students and staff, and 18 of them were transported by private ambulance to area hospitals, and 29 were transported by a school bus to an area hospital for evaluation.

Firefighters said the medical evaluations were precautionary and no one was seriously injured.

The fumes are believed to have come from a leaf blower which was being used to dry off an area on the roof and the noxious fumes entered an HVAC air intake, where it was distributed inside the school with varying levels of concentration.

A hazmat team vented the building and used air monitoring equipment to determine that the school's air quality was safe by 11:30 a.m.

Students unaffected by the incident were allowed back in the building around noon.