White Knoll, SC (Paul Kirby) The fire service is now saying that the HVAC system in the science wing at White Knoll High School was what forced the evacuation of all the students from the building. Apparently, it malfunctioned and caused a gaseous odor in the building. The first arriving battalion chief from the county’s fire service evaluated the situation upon his arrival and asked that the first haz-mat response be upgraded. The fire service now has a full commercial structural response enroute along with its haz-mat resources. Batesburg-Leesville FD’s SUPER-Fan is also enroute. This fan pulls behind a truck, is powered by a V-8 car engine, and has a fan blade like the ones you’d find on an air boat. It moves a tremendous amount of air and can ventilate large commercial structures like the high school. It is the only one of its kind in the Midlands. According to the school district and the fire service there is NO FIRE!
Calls regarding the smell came in around 3:00 p.m. Once the fire service’s field supervisors arrived, they realized that the situation would require the additional equipment and manpower. Currently, there are two battalion chiefs tied up at the school, the fire service’s chief of operations, their chief training officer, the area’s fire marshal, and other senior supervisory personnel are either on scene or enroute. Another supervisor has called for trucks from West Columbia and the Irmo Fire District to move into the county for coverage.
Mary Beth Hill, the Chief Communications Officer for Lexington School District One said in an e-mail, “White Knoll High School was evacuated because of a suspected gas leak. Everyone is fine. There are emergency responders there. This will make dismissal confusing and time consuming. Parents should pack their patience.”
Most of the fire service equipment is now leaving the scene and students are being picked up by their parents at the football stadium.