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Hazmat prompts evacuation of Lincoln Tech, sends 10 to hospital

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 12 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 14 2013 05:39:15 AM CDT

Hazmat crews swarmed a technical school in Lehigh County on Thursday.

SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. -

Hazmat crews swarmed a technical school in Lehigh County on Thursday.

An odor was making students at Lincoln Technical Institute in South Whitehall Township sick, and the campus was evacuated just after 1 p.m. Nearly a dozen people were sent to local hospitals.

"We were just having a normal day in class and all of the sudden the alarm went off," described Hector Arroyo, a medical assistant student.

The entire campus, located at 5151 W. Tilghman St., was cleared.

"It was like six people, and then after six people they just said let's evacuate because there's something obviously wrong," shared Yaritza Cruz, who is studying to be a medical assistant techician.

Emergency crews swarmed the school.  Officials said an odor was making students sick.

"We had a bunch of people that were passing out," added Arroyo. "They felt nauseous, faint and some of them needed drinks and everything."

"People were getting sick," explained Cruz.  "Stomach pain, headaches, people were fainting."

We were told students from classrooms 106 and 107 were separated from the group. Some had to be washed down and decontaminated on site.  In all, 10 people were sent to local hospitals for evaluation.

Arroyo was in one of the rooms, but he was given the OK by emergency responders.

"Basically waited it out until they figured out what was wrong," he said.

But after crews swept the school, they couldn't find the source of the odor and said nothing hazardous was found. Classes were canceled and the building was shut down for the rest of the day.

"They said that they will send us an email or they will call us to let us know if it's safe to come back to school," added Arroyo.

Last August, hazmat crews were called to the campus after an ammonia odor was detected inside.  In that case, three people were hospitalized.

There was no word Thursday night on the conditions of the students sent to the hospital.

Classes were cancelled for Friday.