TUNNELTON, W.Va. (AP) — State regulators say a northern West Virginia business was burning material illegally in its outdoor furnace and the smoke drifted into a nearby elementary school, sending 37 people to hospitals.
Preston County schools Assistant Superintendent Craig Schmidl says classes were dismissed Friday at Tunnelton-Denver Elementary School.
He says smoke from a nearby auto repair shop's furnace got pulled into the school's ventilation system, including nearby modular units.
The Preston County emergency services office says 37 people were transported to four hospitals. A news release says some students reported having trouble breathing.
Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Tom Aluise says an air quality inspector confirmed illegal material was being burned in the furnace.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
Smoke from an outdoor furnace at a northern West Virginia auto repair shop drifted into a nearby elementary school's ventilation system Friday, and authorities said 37 people were taken to hospitals.
Preston County Assistant Superintendent Craig Schmidl said classes were dismissed Friday at Tunnelton-Denver Elementary School.
In a news release, the Preston County emergency services office said it received a call at 10:38 a.m. that a few students in one of the classrooms were having respiratory problems. After rescue units arrived, the number of patients "took a dramatic increase." They were taken to four area hospitals
Schmidl said many of the students taken to the hospital were in one of two modular units adjacent to the school's main building. Smoke from the furnace got pulled into the school's ventilation system.
Schmidl said he didn't know the name of the business and that authorities were looking into the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning, although the cause remained under investigation.
"In the checks they're doing for air quality, it seems that might be their concern," he said.
State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Tom Aluise said an air quality inspector was being sent to the school.
Tunnelton has about 300 residents and is located just west of the Maryland border, about 100 miles south of Pittsburgh.