May 20, 2014 2:18 PM by Andy Koen

Fire extinguisher dust closes Pueblo elementary school

PUEBLO - Clouds of fire extinguisher dusts swirling in the halls forced school administrators at Ben Franklin Elementary to keep children outside this morning.

"It's just an irritant, but this school population also includes some students with asthma and with some breathing issues," explained district spokesman Scott Jones.

He said concern over the health risk associated with breathing the dust is why they ultimately decided to cancel school.

"The whole focus at this point is the safety of everybody involved, the students, the faculty, of getting it cleaned up."

Some parents, like Johnda Kidd, heard about the cancellation on their cell phones.

"They just sent me an alert text message and then they called," she said

Others, like Arthur Vigil, saw the cancellation message while watching News 5.

"I was watching TV and I seen it flash at the bottom of the screen saying that they had closed the school for the day," Vigil said.

Jones reports there was some visible damage to the building and that the vandalism occurred between the close of school Monday and this morning. However, he couldn't say specifically how the person or persons got inside.

Whoever it was, it seems they also may have stolen school property. Johnda Kidd said a projector and globe were taken from her daughter Brylee's third grade class.

"It's just crazy with them breaking into the school," said parent Tina Mayo. "I mean it's not worth it."

She and Vigil appreciated the school requiring identification in order to pick up their kids.

"That way the kids get their right parents, I really do like that system," she said.

Meanwhile her son Colton and daughter Mandy were excited simply to have a day off.

"It's cool," they said. "Yeah, cool."

Officers with the Pueblo Police Department are investigating the case. Jones did not expect the closure to add any make-up days to the school calendar.

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