Some Kentucky schools closed due to smoke from nearby wildfires

FRAKES (WATE) – Bell County Schools says Frakes School in Frakes, Kentucky will be closed Wednesday due to smoke from nearby wildfires. This decision came after it took school buses hours to get to the bus stops Tuesday morning.

Frakes High School buses will run two hours late, according to Bell County Transportation Director Tom Grambrel. No other Bell County Schools are impacted by the wildfires at this time.

“I don’t want my kids to face what they had to face today,” said Shannon Hammontree, a parent of three kids who attend Frakes School. “It was so bad you literally couldn’t see the road in front of you.”

Shannon Hammontree said her kids stood in thick smoke for 40 minutes while waiting for the school bus. She said it was even hard to see vehicles passing by a few feet away.

“As soon as I walked outside…cough after cough after cough,” said Gracie Hammontree, Shannon Hammontree’s daughter and eighth grader at Frakes School.

Gracie Hammontree said it was so bad, she had to cover her face with a scarf. She said that did not seem to help.

“It was awful. I don’t want to have to do that ever again,” said Gracie Hammontree.

After waiting 40 minutes for the school bus, Shannon Hammontree drove her kids to school. She said the school bus had to park on the side of the road with kids on it for several hours as it waited for the smoke to clear. She said she is relieved the school decided to cancel class tomorrow.

“If it was anything like today, I don’t want them to be anywhere near it,” said Shannon Hammontree.

For now, the school has only told parents about tomorrow’s classes being canceled. On the day off, Shannon Hammontree does not plan to be outside with her kids. However, that is not keeping the fear of nearby wildfires away.

“It’s a scary thought because you think if it is this bad, you think there has to be a fire somewhere close,” said Shannon Hammontree.

As of Tuesday, Kentucky Division of Forestry said there are 4 active wildfires in Bell County.

On November 3, Governor Matt Bevin declared a State of Emergency in Kentucky due to dozens of wildfires burning across the eastern part of the state.

McCreary County schools in Kentucky are also out. The school district said on its website, “Fortunately, the air test passed in both schools. However, both schools still have a heavy smoke smell which could affect the breathing and overall health of our students and staff. We have used fans and the HVAC exhaust system to try and remove the smoke from the building; unfortunately, we could not remove the heavy smoke smell. As a result, No school in the McCreary County School District for Wednesday, November 16, 2016.”

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