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Special needs school evacuated following Owings Mills carbon monoxide leak

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Posted at 12:27 PM, Feb 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-26 07:39:01-05

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Late Monday morning, BGE workers and Baltimore County firefighters stood by the open door of The Schafer Center, a school for autistic children in Owings Mills.

Meanwhile, next door at the motor vehicle administration building, the nearly 30 autistic students and 50 staff members were huddled and being checked out for carbon monoxide poisoning.

"My heart is still racing as we speak,” said parent Jacole Weaver, “When you come to a scene and see so many emergency vehicles and stuff like that so...just can’t wait to get my hands on him."

Weaver was one of many parents fighting their way through emergency medical equipment to put hands on her own child.

She was able to walk out with her son, as did Lissette Machado, who says all the kids and staff were being cared for inside.

"They offered for me to go to the hospital if I needed to but he doesn’t need it because he is breathing fine. His oxygen levels are normal. So, we are going home, they gave us instructions and specifically what we need to see because our kids...can't tell us."

In the end, Baltimore County Emergency Management says only one child and one adult may have needed to be transported. They say this all started when the staff smelled something odd this morning.

While carbon monoxide is the odorless, colorless killer...this time it mixed with a malfunction in the heating system in the school which caused a smell. BGE tested dangerous levels of the gas and immediately evacuated the building.

The school's owner says they enacted their emergency plan which resulted in every child and staff member getting the care they needed.

"Every school has an emergency response plan for lots of different situations and I guess it was our turn to enact ours today. You need to take care of the kids that are in your care and that is what we did today," said owner and founder of The Shafer Center Helen Shafer.