Odor prompts evacuation at Kamiloiki Elementary

Published On: Dec 24 2013 12:52:27 PM HST   Updated On: Nov 26 2013 10:26:02 PM HST

About 450 students, faculty and staff from Kamiloiki Elementary School in Hawaii Kai were evacuated Tuesday morning due to a chemical odor, according to fire and school officials.

A majority of the students were walked to Kaiser High School 1.5 miles away after complaining about the odor at around 9 a.m. A teacher in the school's C building first noticed the strange smell.

"He didn't know where it was coming from and that it wasn't a pleasant odor," said Kamiloiki Principal Susan Okano.

Two students, both 10-year-old girls, were hospitalized as a precaution after complaining of nausea and a dry cough. In all, 16 students were checked out by paramedics.

"They checked my blood pressure (and) my temperature," said 5th grader Cameron Friel.

Fire crews used field meters to try and determine what the odor was and where it came from, but results were inconclusive. 

"We haven't been able to find a source, or an actual confirmation of a release, but we have detected a very faint odor ourselves in some outside areas of the campus," said Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Terry Seelig.

Parents whose children attend Kamiloiki were notified about the emergency through an email blast and the school's phone tree. Robin Reichert, whose son Justin is in the 4th grade, praised the school for the orderly evacuation and timely communications.

"Everything seemed to be very organized, (and) people were calm," she said.

Parents picked up their children at the Kaiser High School campus throughout the morning and afternoon.

On Monday, a pesticide odor in Ewa Beach affected three schools, Pohakea Elementary, Kaimiloa Elementary and Campbell High School. Kids were kept inside classrooms for about an hour after a nearby homeowner sprayed the pesticide melathion on his lawn.

According to a state law passed in 2007, stores are required to label pesticides with directions that adequately explain how to safely use them. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell co-sponsored the bill when he served as majority leader in the state House.

"It's about teaching the user be careful because you could hurt someone," said Caldwell.

Kamiloiki Elementary is expected to resume classes on Wednesday.

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