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Bees attack 10 at Ben Hulse Elementary in Imperial

September 25, 2007|By BRIANNA LUSK, Staff Writer
  • TODD KRAININ PHOTO A firefighter watches the demolition of a home on South D Street in Imperial. The demolition had earlier disrupted a beehive, causing eight children and two employees to be stung at the nearby Ben Hulse Elementary School.
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IMPERIAL — Ten students and employees at Ben Hulse Elementary School here suffered bee stings after two hives were disturbed during the demolition of a house across the street.

Hundreds of bees swarmed the area early Monday as students and staff arrived to start their week at school.

Eight students, one teacher and one instruction aide were transported to El Centro Regional Medical Center as a precaution, Ben Hulse Principal Jerry Johnson said. All were treated for the bee stings and released within a few hours.

The streets leading to the 300 block of D Street where the school is located was shut down as neighbors were informed of the swarm and were advised to stay indoors.

Heather Munger lives next door to the house that was being demolished. “Both of my kids go to school here,” Munger said. “They were eating breakfast at school. I know some kids got stung.”

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Munger said her 6- and 8-year-olds were already at the school when the bees were stirred up.

She said the house has been vacant for about a year.

“There was no notification the house was going to be demolished. You think they would have done it on a weekend,” Munger said. Johnson said the first bee hive was disturbed around 7:30 a.m., when G-4 Construction, the company demolishing the house, knocked down a wall.

A second hive was believed to be found below the floorboards of the house, Imperial County fire officials said.

G-4 Construction did not return calls seeking comment. Information on who owns the home and why it was being torn down was not available.

Imperial County Vector Control was called to control the swarms and spray down the remaining debris to suppress further swarming, public health officials said.

“We normally don’t take down nests on private property,” Andrea Bowers, assistance public information officer for the public health department, said. “In this situation the bees were swarming and we treated it because it was a public safety threat.” The bees will be tested to determine if they were Africanized bees, Bowers said.

Johnson said children at the school were kept inside as a measure of precaution.

Two children who are allergic to bees were advised to stay home from school Monday.

Munger said the school responded efficiently to what happened and she is going to be on high alert in the next few days.

The school’s schedule will return to normal today, Johnson said. It was a bizarre but isolated incident, he said. “I don’t think there’s a risk anymore,” Johnson said. “We just have to take precaution.”

>> Staff Writer Brianna Lusk can be reached at blusk@ivpressonline.com or 337-3439.

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