COVINGTON – A small electrical fire at Cousins Middle School on Wednesday resulted in students and staff being evacuated from the building.
The fire occurred in a small mechanical closet, which is located in a hallway filled with classrooms. For unknown reasons, the main circuit possibly overheated, causing the breaker’s busbar to melt, according to Covington Fire Department Deputy Chief Tony Smith.
There were initially reports of flames, but there were no visible flames when fire officials arrived at the scene around 3 p.m. Smith added that upon arriving there was visible smoke and the smell of burning plastic was detected in a few of the school’s corridors.
The fire, which occurred on the north side of the building, caused students to be evacuated for about 25 minutes to the school’s gym, which is located on the south side of the building. Although the incident occurred close to dismissal time, students were able to return to the classroom around 3:30 p.m., shortly before being dismissed at 4:15 p.m.
An electrical contractor arrived on site and was able to assess the damage. The panel that caught fire, which controlled some receptacles and copy machines, will have to be replaced.
The Fire Department applauded both students and staff for following safety protocol in a cautious and timely manner.
“They (staff) did an excellent job evacuating and maintaining the school and coordinating with us on arrival where the fire was,” said Smith.
Required monthly fire drills played a part in the school being prepared for such an emergency.
“The students did an outstanding job following the evacuation procedures they practice on a monthly basis, and in fact were commended by officials at the scene,” said Newton County School System Public Relations Director Sherri Davis-Viniard in a recorded voice message to Cousins Middle parents.
No students or staffed were harmed during the incident, and classes were expected to resume as normal.