Editor's Note: The following is a "wrap up" of the incident at the Spooner Middle School submitted to DrydenWire.com from Spooner Fire Chief, Darren Vik.
SPOONER, Wis. -- On Wednesday, November 10, 2021 the Spooner Fire District was dispatched at 9:44 a.m. to the Spooner Wesleyan Church located at 1000 W. Maple St. for students who had been evacuated from the Spooner Middle School located at 750 Oak St. Upon arrival we were told that there was a strong epoxy odor at the school and that students were feeling ill. The students left the building around 9:10 a.m.
Multiple agencies of law enforcement, EMS and Fire responded to the Wesleyan Church where students and teachers were gathered. Medical Aid was given to students and additional ambulances were ordered.
The fire department also responded to the Spooner Middle School. An epoxy odor was present outside of the school. Firefighters entered the school using SCBA’s and equipped with gas/co monitors. FD discovered some office staff, teachers and maintenance workers were found throughout the building. Doors on building were open and large fans were being used to move air out of the building. Wind was out of the Southeast with 8-9 mph. Detectors did not register any levels of Carbon Monoxide or gas. Work was being done around the school which included a sewer lining crew working on College St. Northeast of School and a construction crew operating motorized equipment on the Northeast side of school building. FD obtained MSDS information from the Michels Company that was doing the Lining work, MSDS showed substance name PERKADOX 26. FD contacted Chemtrec to discuss information. Michels crew started work around 7:30 a.m. and were lining between manholes at Elm/College St. south to Walnut/College St.
FD contacted Spooner Health (Hospital) to pass on chemical name and information, The FD received reports on students and teachers having low levels of CO in their systems. The school building did have an odor but continued to lesson with the fans blowing.
FD updates took place with Middle School Principal and School Superintendent during first hours on site.
Around 11am CESA 10 construction crew working on outside of building applied a waterproofing membrane on an outside wall that introduced another strong odor into the building. MSDS was received several days later and showed substance name of Airlok Flex.
The FD worked with school staff to try and identify the source of the carbon monoxide by checking heating system in the building. Floor drains were checked for Sewer gas. During this check an old style P-trap was located in basement with a rusted out pipe. Unsure if P-trap was active or abandoned. FD plugged trap with plumbing wax.
Michels lining crew stopped work and were going to wait until late afternoon to finish street. FD requested to witness process and timeline was moved up due to no students in the school. Lining work took place between Walnut/College St and Oak/College St. FD took readings during the process at each manhole and inside the school and no levels were detected.
On Thursday, monitoring continued and the hot water heater was operated for several hours. At no time on Wednesday or Thursday were any amounts of gas or CO detected using four different detectors. FD left one detector on site for school to use in upcoming days.
FD had discussions and input from the following agencies: Washburn County Health Dept, Chemtrec, WI Poison Control, Essentia Health St Mary’s Children’s Hospital, WI Dept of Health Services, WI DNR, Spooner Health Systems Infection Control, ER Director and ER Doctor, Essentia Health Medical Toxicology, WI Bureau of Environment and Occupational Health
Other organizations involved during this incident: North Memorial Ambulance, Minong Ambulance, Cumberland Ambulance, Sawyer County Ambulance, Spooner Police Department, Washburn County Sheriff’s Department, WI State Patrol and Washburn County Emergency Government
The building was ordered closed by the FD on Friday November 12th to all personnel except for those helping with additional testing. FD will clear building for occupancy once school provides environmental testing results. FD also advised school to install CO Detectors in building until end of the school year.
The FD received air sampling results on December 9th at meeting with school. Reports were from Legend Technical Services in Eau Claire, WI and MacNeil Environmental Inc of Grand Rapids, MN. Both showed results within acceptable limits. FD was willing to reopen school. Superintendent asked to wait until a third party could review the two tests and more possible medical testing to be completed.
December 20th, 2021, school presented report from Bannister Occupational Medicine Testing from Robbinsdale, MN and FD cleared building for occupancy.