Father Judge closed Tuesday due to Hazmat situation

NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA - December 5, 2011

The school was closed Monday because of a previously scheduled in-service for teachers.

Health and safety officials spent the day inspecting the school's gym but could not determine the source of the irritant.

A cheerleading competition was held at the school yesterday. Some who attended began having symptoms shortly after arriving - others fell ill later in the evening. At last check as many as 50 people had taken themselves to area hospitals for treatment.

Angela Milio explained the sensation, telling Action News, "I don't know how to explain the feeling, but it felt like [my eyes] were on fire."

Milio's eyes are red and swollen. She and her daughter, Paige, have been putting warm compresses on their eyes trying to flush whatever has been burning them since they left Father Judge High School Sunday afternoon.

Angela says, "When we were at the gym they were just burning and they just kept watering."

Paige Milio explains, "I blinked once we got in the car and I couldn't open my eyes. And when I did it looked like I was crying for hours."

The fire department is now working to identify the source of the irritation. So far, the cause is unclear.

Charles Lepre from the Fire Marshal's Office tells Action News, "We do have the health department en route. There's a doctor en route and a chemist who will do all that analysis and hopefully identify what the problem is."

Father Judge President Reverend Joseph Campellone says, "We've been here since 5:00 in the morning looking to see how we can help those who are sick right now. So, that is our major concern right now."

The Milios are concerned about any long term complications the irritant may cause. They plan on going to the hospital for evaluation as officials try and get a clearer picture of what went wrong at Father Judge.

"I feel like they're brighter than usual and I actually am kind of, my eyes are a little blurry," said Angela.

Action News heard from one parent that there was a MRSA scare at the school a couple of weeks ago and the building was scrubbed down. What chemicals were used and whether that played a role this weekend has not been confirmed. The Archdiocese is trying to find the answer.

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