FLORENCE, AZ - Fire officials say six Florence students have been treated after being exposed to tear gas that blew into the air near their school late Wednesday morning.
According to the Florence Fire Department, the Arizona Department of Corrections was conducting training with a chemical normally used for inmate compliance. The weather caused the chemical to reach the children, who were at Florence K-8 near Pinal Parkway and Butte, causing throat and eye irritation.
Fire officials initially reported that more than three dozen children had been affected, but later said only six were being treated for watery eyes and nausea.
DOC authorities say they "are taking action" to avoid this happening in the future, and are continuing to investigate the incident.
The Florence Unified School District released the following statement about the incident:
Today at approximately 11:30am a Florence K-8 lunch monitor and Physical Education Teacher reported students entering the cafeteria/gym with a cough and complaining of burning eyes and throat. The administration at Florence K-8 immediately put the school on rainy day schedule so no other students would go outdoors and called the Florence Fire Department. The Florence Fire Department immediately responded and began evaluating the health of any students who showed signs of symptoms. Initially, eight students showed signs of illness and ultimately approximately 25 students were examined by Florence Fire Department. All students were seen on site and no students were transported to the hospital by paramedics. All Parents of impacted students were immediately notified. The buses will run at the normal times today.
Mrs. Joanne Pike, Florence K-8 Principal is extremely grateful for the prompt response from the Florence Fire Department and the quick response of her staff. Their immediate action prevented any further students from being impacted. She also wants to thank all of the support staff who immediately went to the office and began helping and treating students. The whole staff worked together to contact parents and help students until the fire department arrived.
The Florence Unified School District has had a long and successful partnership with the Florence Prison. This is the first incident of its kind in our history and we will work together with them to ensure it never happens again. Please contact the Florence Prison if you have any questions specific to them.