UPDATE: Hazardous Materials Cause Evacuation On Western Carolina Campus

Feb 6, 2020

Update 2/7/2020: 

(4pm) The Health and Human Sciences Building at Western Carolina University is scheduled to reopen Monday, February 10, after county, state, and university officials have determined that there are no public health or safety issues.  Multiple investigations revealed no definitive cause for the incident. 


As a result, the North Carolina Department of Public Health, Jackson County Department of Public Health, and University Safety and Risk Management have determined that it is safe to return to the building and for classes and laboratory sessions to resume. The various health clinics located in WCU’s Health and Human Science Building also are scheduled to reopen on Monday.

Update 2/7/2020

(10am) All day and evening classes activities scheduled for Friday, February 7, in the Health and Human Sciences Building are suspended, and all clinics in the building will remain closed.


Still no update on what caused the hazardous materials evacuation at Western Carolina University this morning.  


WCU’s Health and Human Sciences Building had to be evacuated and 7 people were taken to Harris Regional Hospital. Six of the people sent to the hospital have been released. 


University, local and regional emergency services were all called to help with the lockdown of the building. Classes in the building are still cancelled. 


“At Western Carolina University, our primary objective is always the safety of our students, faculty and staff,” says Chancellor Kelli Brown.


Several dozen people were evaluated by WCU Health Services says Shane Stovall, director of emergency services for the university. Stovall says the investigation into what happened is ongoing: 


“At this point and time we are calling it a 'hazardous material incident' because it was some sort of hazardous material - and again it’s an unknown - so we are classifying it as that until we are told otherwise after the investigation. "


The students who were in medicial distress said they were feeling light headed, says Stovall.


There isn’t a timeline for when the investigation will be finalized.  


Chancellor Brown thanked WCU Emergency Medical Services, Harris EMS, the WCU Police Department, Jackson County Emergency Management, the Cullowhee Fire Department, WCU Facilities Management and the N.C. Rapid Response Team 6 in Asheville for responding to the scene.