Metro-East News

Smoke forces evacuation of Belleville grade school

Members of the Belleville Fire Department responded to a fire alarm at Douglas School on Wednesday afternoon. Firefighters determined a faulty electric motor on a portable heating unit caused smoke that forced a brief evacuation of the building.
Members of the Belleville Fire Department responded to a fire alarm at Douglas School on Wednesday afternoon. Firefighters determined a faulty electric motor on a portable heating unit caused smoke that forced a brief evacuation of the building.

Students and staff at Douglas Elementary School started the 2017 portion of their school year with some excitement Wednesday afternoon.

More than 300 students were evacuated from the building just before 1 p.m. after a portable heating unit in the building began to smoke. The Belleville Fire Department responded and determined a faulty motor was to blame.

“At first, I thought maybe a student had pulled (a fire alarm),” Douglas Principal Teresa Blomenkamp said. “But I called down to our custodian who said he could smell smoke, so we got everyone out.”

Blomenkamp said students made it out of the building in an orderly manner. Students were allowed to get their coats and were outside for seven minutes before fire department personnel said it was OK to go back into the building.

Wednesday was the first day of classes for Douglas students after their holiday break. Blomenkamp said they did a good job of remembering what to do in a fire drill, which Blomenkamp said are held on a monthly basis.

“There were no tears, no panic,” Blomenkamp said. “Everyone moved swiflty and did our thing.”

Don O’Brien: 618-239-2626, @DOBrienBND

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