No injuries in fire at Dolton high school
December 12, 2006 DOLTON, Ill. (WLS) -- An emergency was declared in the south suburbs Tuesday morning when smoke filled Thornridge High School. Students were evacuated and classes canceled for the rest of the day.
The smoke came from a fire that apparently started in or near the school's auditorium. Classes at Thornridge are canceled until Thursday so the buildings can be ventilated.
The fire started just after 9 a.m. at the high school located in south suburban Dolton.
It seems fire walls did their job and kept the fire from spreading to other parts of the school. Fire investigators are reportedly looking at machinery kept in a storage room as a possible cause of the fire. Whatever the reason, school ended abruptly Tuesday and won't be open until Thursday.
Some students shivered against the damp morning in Dolton. They were told to leave Thornridge High School after hearing a fire alarm.
"We saw smoke coming from the ceiling, and then it started getting thicker," said James Parker, Thornridge High School student.
"I thought it was crazy," said Aspyn Jones, Thornridge High School student. "There was a lot of confusion, nothing organized at all."
Eighteen-hundred students evacuated after a teacher smelled smoke coming from the auditorium. The evacuation turned into an emergency early dismissal as firefighters tried to contain the fire. School buses lined up and some parents who heard the news came to the school.
Students were not allowed back in the school and some were not prepared for the weather.
"They said we were going home early. And then the lights cut off and everybody had to leave," said Parker.
The village spokesman says the fire was contained to a storage closet above the school's auditorium. While concrete fire walls prevented the fire from spreading, smoke wafted throughout the school.
School officials say the auditorium was not being used at the time and a teacher passing by alerted officials about the fire before it got worse.
"He immediately notified the school administration as well as the district administration. An emergency evacuation was held. All students were evacuated immediately," said John Arrington, Thornton Twsp. High School District 205.
Students were standing outside for more than an hour waiting for the okay to go home or waiting for rides home. While that wait may have been uncomfortable, the village spokesman says it was necessary to protect students from more serious problems with fire and smoke.
"Because of this alert staff member, we were able to get here on time, the evacuation went as good as it could ever go. We're very happy that the conclusion is the way it is," said Sean Howard, Dolton spokesman.
The school is said to need an airing out, and the auditorium has water damage.
At this point, school officials plan to reopen for school on Thursday .
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