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Local : Smoke Bomb Forces Evacuation of Dana Point High; 7 Taken to Hospital

June 21, 1989

A high school was evacuated, seven people were taken to hospitals and a dozen more were being treated for nausea and breathing difficulties today after a smoke bomb spewing apparently toxic fumes ignited in Dana Hills High School less than an hour before classes were to end for the year, authorities said.

"It apparently was someone's idea of a prank but it's more serious than a prank," Principal John Smart said. "I'd like to think they didn't intend any harm."

The number of students and faculty involved and the extent of their injuries could not be learned. At least two hospitals had received victims. Many were being treated with oxygen on the grounds of the high school at noon today.

Witnesses said the powerful fumes smelled like chlorine.

Donna Hickson, a campus proctor or monitor, said she was walking into the main school building when she saw smoke coming out of a trash can. She alerted custodians and, thinking it was a smoke bomb, walked toward the can, she said.

"I headed right into it. It was so toxic it was unbelievable," said Hickson, who was given oxygen by firefighters outside the school. "It smelled like strong, strong chlorine. You knew it was really dangerous. It was scary."

The source of the fumes appeared to be a pile of powdered material, Hickson said.

The smoke bomb went off at the school, 33333 Street of the Golden Lantern, about 11:15 a.m., authorities said.

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