A dead animal is to blame for elevated levels of carbon monoxide at a school in the Dallas Independent School District, officials say.
"We determined that the cause of the carbon monoxide elevated levels was a dead owl that was trapped in the ventilation system of the school," said DISD spokesperson Andre Riley. "We don’t know how long that dead owl has been there, but apparently was the primary contributed to the elevated levels of carbon monoxide. So, we’ve removed that dead owl from the ventilation system and right now the air quality in the building is testing at normal levels and we anticipate we will have school tomorrow."
The parent of a Lakewood Elementary School student says her child, and several others, reported headaches and vomiting a day before the Dallas school was evacuated over dangerous levels of carbon monoxide gas.[[294849041,L]]
Riley said Lakewood was evacuated as a precaution Tuesday morning after a contractor detected elevated levels of the poisonous gas in the school.
Officials said 911 was called and that Dallas ISD police and emergency operations teams were dispatched to the school. Meanwhile, more than 800 students and staff were evacuated and walked to nearby Lake Hill Preparatory Academy.
Dallas-Fire Rescue tweeted the elevated carbon monoxide alert at 10:22 a.m. and later said they determined the source of the leak was a furnace in the basement. DFR added that Atmos Energy had been called to the scene and was addressing the leak.
Riley also confirmed that 11 students went to the nurse Monday, and 50 reported they were not feeling well. Mackenie Toll, a student in the 5th grade, went home after throwing up several times.
“It was just so bad you could not eat. It was horrible,” she said.
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Toll's mother and several other parents wanted to know why school was in session Tuesday with so many kids not feeling well.
“For them to have school this morning with not really knowing what the issue was, we Googled carbon monoxide ourselves, and we are like, these symptoms are dead on with them,” said parent Stephanie Kuhlman.
Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas produced when fossil fuels are burned, can bring about sudden illness or even death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Headaches and vomiting are early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. People who have been exposed to elevated levels of carbon monoxide should immediately seek fresh air and be evaluated by a doctor.
Dr. Seema Yasmin, medical expert for The Dallas Morning News, said carbon monoxide poisoning kills about 400 Americans every year, but that people can be easily protected by purchasing a carbon monoxide detector for their home.
By 11:30 a.m., with the school cleared of students and staff, all DFR hazmat teams had left the school.
NBC 5's Katy Blakey, Julie Fine and Holley Ford contributed to this report.