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Hazmat Incident Sickens Students, Closes Art Institute of California

SAN BERNARDINO - Firefighters evacuated more than 1,200 students and staff from the Art Institute of California on Monday after a bucket of cleaning solution sickened several students in a cooking class.

San Bernardino firefighters came to the campus, 674 E. Brier Drive at 9:20 a.m., when they received a call about four students who became sick after mixing a solution in a cleaning bucket.

"It turned into a mist or cloud and they had difficulty breathing," said San Bernardino fire spokesman Tom Rubio.

Firefighters took two of the four students to hospitals for treatment. The other two were examined at the scene for contamination, but were not hospitalized.

A 25-year-old student approached firefighters about 12:30 p.m., complaining of having trouble breathing. He was also taken to a hospital.

School officials helped evacuate the school's 1,250 students and staff.

Students were allowed back into the building about 1 p.m.

"Our Hazmat guys did a thorough check of the building," Rubio said. "The school was deemed safe."

While there was a concern that the chemical solution had spread through the air conditioning, Rubio said tests confirmed the substance was isolated to a janitor's closet where the bucket was.

The call lasted about four hours as firefighters handled the clean-up and disposal of the chemical. Fire officials left about 1:30 p.m.

Firefighters said they are not sure why the students were mixing the solution and they are still looking into what kind of chemical was used.



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