Fumes from Hillcrest Fire Make Several Students Sick

October 11, 2012 Updated Oct 11, 2012 at 6:49 PM EDT

By WKBW News
By By Ed Reilly

October 11, 2012 Updated Oct 11, 2012 at 6:49 PM EDT

ATTICA, NY (WKBW) - Several students at Attica Central School on East Main Street were made ill after a cloud of noxious smelling steam from the Hillcrest Industries fire floated onto school property.

The students had just gone outside for a mandatory fire drill when high winds blew the steam toward the school.

Superintendent of Attica Central Schools, Bryce Thompson, tells Eyewitness News that the fire drill was abruptly cancelled and people rushed back inside.

Several students became ill and some were taken home early by their parents.

According to the EPA, crews working to put out the fire at Hillcrest had just encountered a hot spot and sprayed it with water, but high winds quickly carried the steam cloud directly to the school grounds of Attica High School and Middle School.

Superintendent Thompson said health officials and the EPA assured him that the steam was not hazardous.

But to prevent a repeat of the problem, the school district has postponed Thursday night's J-V Football game against Notre Dame High School because winds remain to be strong.

"They can't predict when that steam pocket is going to come. And if they even tried to call us, it would be here by the time they get a hold of us," said the superintendent.

A fire in a 40-foot high pile of recycled glass, plastic, and other materials has been burning for months at Hillcrest.

The EPA is overseeing an effort to extinguish the fire and they report that crews have successfully put out the blaze in 60% of the pile, but it could still take several more days before the operation is complete.