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Chatfield opens for classes days after evacuation

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By AJ Vicens

Chatfield High School opened to all students and staff Monday morning after 500 freshmen were forced to evacuate the building Aug. 21 as a result of an airborne irritant.

Two dozen students and staff were taken to hospitals Aug. 21 after the unidentified irritant made them ill. About 500 freshmen at the school for orientation had to evacuate that afternoon.

The first call to police on Aug. 21 went out about 12:30 p.m., according to Jeffco Public Schools spokeswoman Lynn Setzer. When police and West Metro Fire crews arrived, 17 staff members and eight students complaining of breathing problems were transported to area hospitals. The students and teachers complained of coughing, headaches and nausea, according to West Metro Fire spokeswoman Michelle French.

A hazardous-materials crew was sent into the building with monitors but couldn’t determine what caused the irritation, French said.

“Whatever it was dissipated,” she said.

Once the people complaining of breathing problems were outside the school, they were given showers and given new clothes before heading to local hospitals by ambulance, French said.

Another person was transported to the hospital after suffering a seizure, according to French, but that was unrelated to the mysterious odor.

About 500 freshmen were in the building for orientation Aug. 21, Setzer said, along with 150 staff members.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.