Students in Florence complain of cough, burning eyes from gas used during prison training exercise

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Florence K-8 School (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Florence K-8 School (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Arizona State Prison Complex (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Arizona State Prison Complex (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Some students in Florence complained of a cough and burning eyes and throat after wind gusts blew a gas used during a prison training exercise toward their school Wednesday morning.

Andrew Wilder, the director of communications for the Arizona Department of Corrections, said staff members at the Arizona State Prison Complex was conducting a routine quarterly training exercise where CS gas was deployed from the yard tower onto the exercise field in Central Unit. No inmates were on the yard at the time.

Wilder explained that the CS gas is used by law enforcement for crowd control purposes.

He said wind gusts carried some of the gas several blocks and toward the Florence K-8 School, which is west of the prison complex.

According to the Florence Unified School District, a lunch monitor and physical education teacher reported students entering the cafeteria/gym with a cough and complaining of burning eyes and throat.

Administrators put the school on a rainy day schedule so no other students would go outdoors and called the Florence Fire Department.

District officials said eight students showed signs of illness initially and, ultimately, approximately 25 students were examined by the Fire Department on scene. No one needed to be transported to a hospital.

"This unfortunate incident is the first time that gas used in routine training exercises has reportedly traveled off property," Wilder said in an emailed statement. "Department officials take this matter very seriously and have already taken immediate actions to effectively prevent the possibility of this from happening in the future."

[MOBILE/APP USERS: Click here to read the statement from Florence K-8]

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