Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues

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North Stafford High students and staff evacuated


I just got off the phone with Mark Doyle, spokesman for Stafford County Fire and Rescue. He gave me some more information about the incident at North Stafford High School.

First, fire and rescue officials have not determined that the chemistry experiment caused the odor. An evaluation may have been cut short by this afternoon’s  storm, but officials hope to know soon whether or not there was a gas leak.

The fire and rescue department evaluated 14 students for nausea and headaches. Five refused transportation, and eight were taken to Stafford Hospital. Another student was also transported for “a medical emergency unrelated to the incident.”

The gas line which secures the science labs at North Stafford High has been locked, so it can’t be turned back on. That line is from a propane tank which only supplies the labs, Doyle said.

He emphasized that officials tested the air and found it OK for students to return to school today.

“Come Monday, they should feel safe going to school,” he said.

Students and staff at North Stafford High School were evacuated this morning after a chemistry experiment let off a gas-like odor.

Ten students were taken to the hospital with nausea and headaches, said Valerie Cottinghim, spokeswoman for Stafford County Public Schools.

The chemistry class was doing a routine experiment that involved heating nickels when students noticed an odor that smelled like gas. That smell went through the air ducts and throughout the school, Cottonghim said.

So students and staff were evacuated at 10:45 a.m. Fire, rescue and police showed up on the scene.

Everyone was allowed back into the building at 11:45 a.m.

There is no word yet on the condition of the students taken to the hospital.


  • Anonymous

    It’s Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker!

  • Anonymous

    As a parent and taxpayer, just want to give KUDDOS to the school and Fire / Police on the speed they evacuated the buildings and blocked off the area. From what I witnessed, Everyone stayed calm and followed directions!

    But… was 50 minutes before the gas company showed up!! Seriously??! If one of the Firemen had gotten hurt…this would be a different story!

    By the way, the labs are not vented properly and should be moved or the problem should be corrected. This could have been ALOT worse.