Gas odor prompts evacuation at Falcon High School

Published: Aug. 17, 2017 at 1:27 PM MDT
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A gas odor at a Falcon-area high school prompted an evacuation shortly after school started Thursday morning.

"I got a text, a phone call and an email," said 11th-grade parent Elizabeth Sikuka. "They're really good about communicating at this school."

Falcon High School was cleared out just before 8:30 a.m. while the Falcon Fire Department went through the building.

The fire department couldn't immediately find the source of the odor, so they brought in the El Paso County Hazmat team. After that, classes and after school activities were canceled for the remainder of the day. Parents who were able to pick up their kids were required to check their child out, a process parents said took about an hour. The checkout was in part to ensure all students were accounted for.

"We have a responsibility to our families to ensure the safety of their students, so while that may be frustrating, it does take time to reunite 1,200 students with their family,' said Communications Director of District 49 Matt Meister. "Our first priority is student safety, so evacuating students from the building was the first step."

Meister said they would be assessing the checkout procedure for future emergencies.

Students who couldn't get a ride home and remained on campus were taken to the school's safe commons area and given lunch.

"It got more chaotic when people started figuring out what was going on, because everyone was like, 'Oh, we need to call our parents, we don't have a ride, we have to walk home,' and everyone got kind of -- it got a little hectic," said 9th-grader Kianna Pilling.

Through the remainder of the day, the fire department, hazmat, El Paso County Sheriff's Office and Black Hills Energy investigated and never found the cause. They inspected all the systems, according to District 49, and deemed everything safe again and fully operating.

Thursday even, the district confirmed classes will begin at normal start time Friday morning. However, classes will begin the day with fifth period. The district plans to release the modified schedule

by Thursday night.