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Tar fumes sicken students, teachers at Westfield School

Emergency personnel meet after two teachers were transported to the hospital and more than 70 students complained of illness at Westfield Community School Wednesday.
(H. Rick Bamman Photo)
Emergency personnel meet after two teachers were transported to the hospital and more than 70 students complained of illness at Westfield Community School Wednesday. (H. Rick Bamman Photo)

ALGONQUIN – Two students and at least two teachers were taken to the hospital and more than 70 others complained of becoming sick at Westfield Community School Wednesday after tar fumes from roof work got into the school’s vents.

Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Fire Protection District was dispatched to the school at 2100 Sleepy Hollow Road for an odor investigation in the second-floor hallway.

There were reports of a possible burning smell, and when emergency crews arrived, there was a slight chemical odor, Lt. Julie Didier said.

“It was to the point where two of us smelled it, two of us didn’t,” she said.

The students were complaining of minor ailments, such as headache, stomachache, and sore throat, Didier said.

Emergency personnel and school nurses inspected the students at the scene, and two were taken to area emergency rooms for further evaluation, District 300 Safety Officer Gary Chester said. District 300 officials contacted the parents of the other affected students so they could be taken home.

There were roofers working on the building at the time of the incident, and the fumes for the tar they were using became drawn into the building’s ventilation system.

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