Gas leak forces evacuation of Bangor beauty school

Posted Nov. 02, 2010, at 2:51 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Seven people were taken to the emergency departments of Eastern Maine Medical Center and St. Joseph Hospital on Tuesday after a natural gas leak at the Empire Beauty School, according to the Bangor Fire Department.

All were released without being admitted, according to Angela Watson, spokeswoman for the Empire Education Group, which owns the school.

Firefighters were called at about 9:30 a.m. to the school in the Broadway Shopping Center for a report of the smell of gas in the building, Watson said in a press release issued Tuesday afternoon.

“Fire officials checked the air and gave the all-clear to staff and students to return to class about 20 minutes later,” she said. “After a short time back in the building, several students started complaining of nausea and lightheadedness. Staff evacuated the building once again and called authorities.”

No other locations in the shopping center were evacuated or affected by the leak, according to Assistant Fire Chief Darrell Cyr.

Six young women were brought to the emergency department at EMMC late Tuesday morning suffering from nausea because of gas exposure, hospital spokeswoman Jill MacDonald said.

One other individual was seen in the emergency room at St. Joseph Hospital. A spokeswoman said the patient was not seriously ill and would be released later in the day.

“In most cases, fresh air is all they need,” she said.

Cyr said the leak was traced to a malfunctioning heating unit on the roof of the beauty school. He said that the leak also might have involved carbon monoxide, which would have contributed to the students’ reported symptoms.

Watson said investigators still were looking into the source of the problem.

The school remained closed Tuesday but was scheduled to reopen today.

Bangor Daily News writer Meg Haskell contributed to this report.

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