Six students and one teacher were taken to the hospital and 24 were treated on the scene after they had reactions from a toxic irritant on the school playground.


JEFFERSON COUNTY - A mysterious substance officials describe as a "toxic irritant" caused a school-wide evacuation and hospitalized a handful of students at Jefferson County Open School in Lakewood Monday afternoon.

Police, firefighters and Hazmat crews surrounded the school around lunchtime. The pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade school is located at West 10th Avenue and Wadsworth Boulevard in Lakewood.

"I just saw some guy being carried out on a stretcher," eighth grader Ciera Spaulding said.

West Metro Fire says 30 students and a teacher's aide were treated for symptoms similar to an allergic reaction. Hazmat crews decontaminated students outside the school. The rest of the students and staff were evacuated to a church down the street.

Officials with West Metro Fire believe the source of the irritant was outdoors because students reported symptoms after coming back from recess.

Chemicals in fertilizer and pepper spray were ruled out but the source of the toxin is still under investigation.

"Usually if that many people have skin or eye irritation its easier to find the source," said Scott Rogers with West Metro Fire.

Crews say this is not a criminal investigation because they believe this toxin wasn't intentionally placed at the school.

Now, the investigation is headed toward surrounding areas.

"There were winds blowing 10 to 15 mph towards the school from the northwest, so we're going to expand that out," Rogers said.

First responders don't expect any long-term or lingering effects.

Jefferson County Schools tweeted that classes will be canceled Tuesday.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)

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