Beauty school reopens, heating unit repaired after carbon monoxide exposure

The Empire Beauty School, located in the Broadway Shpping Center, shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday more than a dozen Empire Beauty School students and two staff members fell ill--possibly from carbon monoxide exposure.
The Empire Beauty School, located in the Broadway Shpping Center, shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday more than a dozen Empire Beauty School students and two staff members fell ill--possibly from carbon monoxide exposure.
Posted Feb. 10, 2011, at 11:46 p.m.

BANGOR,  Maine — Students and staff returned to business as usual Thursday at the Empire Beauty School less than 24 hours after high levels of carbon monoxide forced an evacuation at the school and sent several people to area hospitals.

Bangor fire inspector John Mickel performed air quality tests inside the school and salon early Thursday morning and declared that it was safe, according to Angela Watson, a spokeswoman for Empire Education Group, the school’s owner.

“We haven’t had any additional complaints and no one is still sick. Everything is back to normal,” she said.

Firefighters responded shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday after carbon monoxide alarms went off inside the school on Broadway. Watson said carbon monoxide levels had increased because of a cracked heat exchanger on one of the school’s two heating systems. That system was being repaired but the cause of the failure was un-known, she said.

More than a dozen students and two staff members were hospitalized Wednesday after experiencing nausea and light-headedness. All were released later that day.

No other locations in the shopping center were evacuated or affected by the incident, Bangor Assistant Fire Chief Rick Cheverie said.

While the malfunctioning unit was being repaired Thursday, Watson said the second heating system provided heat to the business and was supplemented with portable heating units inside the school.

Although the school was involved in a similar incident last November that resulted in seven people being hospitalized for carbon monoxide exposure, Watson said the two leaks were not related. The previous incident was caused by a malfunctioning heating unit that serves a neighboring tenant, but Empire was affected because its unit drew in exhaust fumes through the fresh-air exchange.

Watson said Empire Education Group bought the Empire Beauty School in 2002. The company leases space from Broadway Shopping Center’s owner, Inland Western Bangor Broadway LLC. Attempts to reach the owner on Thursday were not successful.

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