Authorities unsure where Oconomowoc carbon monoxide leak came from

Students will not go back to Oconomowoc High School Friday as investigators work to figure out what caused nearly 200 people to be treated for carbon monoxide exposure.

The Western Lakes Fire Chief Brad Bowen confirmed the "air quality issue" was tied to carbon monoxide Thursday afternoon. As of Thursday evening, five people were still in the hospital getting oxygen.

However, no one is sure where the CO leak is coming from. The building is going to stay closed while school leaders and maintenance crews go through each section to figure it out.

A group of middle school students from Silver Lakes Intermediate were in the high school’s auditorium practicing for a choir concert when they first noticed something was wrong.

“I was singing all of a sudden my vision goes black and my body starts violently shaking and then next thing I know I am being held up by two or three people,” said Meghan Coates, a 7th Grade student.

Others complained of nausea and trouble breathing. 

“It was a little scary just seeing the symptoms and stuff,” said student Nathaniel Sitzberger.

The fire department called for multiple response teams including the Waukesha County HazMat. They cleared the middle school and buses of any leaks, but not Oconomowoc High School.

“The size of the high school and having to go through each of the condensers and furnaces and trying to find out which ones is potentially releasing the CO is a little bit of a process,” said Bowen.

The district will be doing air quality testing for the next 24 hours.

“To make sure we can isolate this and everybody can be assured it’s a safe building to be in,” said Bowen.

In a letter to students, the school said pending safe air quality results, the school will open Friday afternoon so students can reclaim their belongings from 3 to 4 p.m. Also, school events scheduled for after 4 p.m. will not be canceled. However, the club picture day will be rescheduled. 
 

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