Firefighters’ burn sends 7 to hospital


POLAND – More than a dozen students and teachers were examined by medics on Tuesday after smoke from a pair of controlled burns drifted into Poland Regional High School.

Six students and one teacher were taken to a Lewiston hospital with dizziness, headaches and scratchy throats. All were treated and released.

In all, 14 high school students and five staff members complained of ailments after smoke drifted into the school before noon.

“Folks were feeling light-headed and they were smelling what smelled like smoke,” said Principal Bill Doughty.

Most of those afflicted were in or near the area of the building known as the Teachers’ Pod. When the first reports of dizziness came in around 10 a.m., there was not a strong smell of smoke inside the school, Doughty said. Outside the building, the smoky smell was heavier.

School administrators contacted the fire department and learned that it was conducting controlled burns at Tripp Lake and Dunn Road.

“Because of the atmospheric conditions, smoke and fumes remained low in the air,” Doughty said.

School officials immediately adjusted the ventilation system so that it was blowing air outside without taking in any air. Doughty put out an announcement to alert students and teachers of the problem and advised that anyone feeling symptoms should report to the nurses’ station.

Paramedics, emergency medical technicians and school nurses examined 19 students and staff members and determined that most had no lingering effects from the smoke. Six students and one teacher opted to go to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston by ambulance for further evaluation.

A school official went to the hospital with the others and parents were contacted. By 4 p.m., all of those seen at the hospital had been released.

Doughty met with fire officials later in the day to discuss the matter. It was decided that the fire department would advise school officials in the future whenever there is a controlled burn in the area.