November 28, 2012
Julia Roberts Goad
GOODY, Ky. — Students at Belfry High School were evacuated from the building when smoke was discovered in an empty classroom, but no fire was found at the school.
Belfry Volunteer Fire Department Chief Nee Jackson said his department received a call at 1:05 p.m. of smoke in a second floor classroom at the school.
Belfry Principal Rod Varney said after smoke was found by faculty member Rick Mounts, the students were evacuated.
“It was more of a odor than smoke,” Mounts said. “It was like dust on heating coils, like when a heating system is used for the first time in the winter.”
The automatic fire alarms did not sound, Varney said, so he activated a manual alarm.
“We have a fire drill every month, we can clear the building in under two and a half minutes,” Varney said. “So I simply acted as if we were having a drill, to avoid panic. The students left the building in an orderly fashion, and went to the football stadium.”
The room was a culinary arts classroom, with several kitchen appliances. Varney said the room had been unoccupied for a week and was locked.
BVFD members checked out the room, and said none of the electrical equipment was malfunctioning.
As the smoke and odor cleared from the classroom, Chief Jackson used a thermal imaging camera to search for a heat source, but could not identify any.
School maintenance personnel and firefighters continued to try to determine the source of the smoke. Ceiling tiles were removed and Chief Jackson used the thermal imaging camera to search in the space above the ceiling, but could find nothing out of the ordinary.
The fire department searched the entire building, including sending men up onto the roof, but could find no additional smoke or any odor.
Once the room was cleared, the heating system was turned back on. Although a slight odor was detected, it could not be definitively determined that the blower was the source of the odor.
It was not believed the smoke came from an adjacent room.
“Each of these rooms is concrete, and self contained,” Chief Jackson said. “The rooms are like individual homes under one roof.”
Jackson spoke to Dave Broderick with the Kentucky Fire Marshal’s office, who said BVFD had done everything possible to ensure the safety of the students.
The students were returned to the building at roughly 2:30 p.m.
Belfry Volunteer Fire Department has 15 firefighters and four trucks at the scene.