The incident happened just after 10 a.m. Wednesday in the system at the main entrance. Edison Local Schools Superintendent Tom Roth said a motor in the heating and air-conditioning system seized up and with the spindle continuing to spin, it pushed smoke into a couple classrooms.
“The smoke only got into two (classrooms). As soon as the smoke appeared, we evacuated the students,” he added.
The students were out of the building for about an hour. The eighth-graders were on a field trip Wednesday.
“We just moved the (impacted) classes to the eighth-grade classrooms, so the rooms could air out,” Roth said.
The superintendent and Berlin Heights Police Chief Charity Schafer responded to the school, along with the Berlin Township Volunteer Fire Department. Firefighters received mutual aid from Milan Township and Huron. Schafer said the request for aid went out automatically because authorities didn’t know the nature of the call at first.
During the evacuation, the students went to a church in downtown Berlin Heights.
“That’s a warm place for them to stay when it’s cold,” said Schafer, who noted staff members pulled the fire alarm and called 9-1-1 when the smoke appeared. “The students weren’t going to be in danger. … When I got there, they were outside.”
The police chief said she was “extremely impressed” with the way the staff members, teachers and students dealt with the situation.
“They handled it so well. (Many of) the students didn’t know there was an emergency; they just thought it was a fire alarm,” Schafer added.
Roth agreed with the chief, saying when he arrived, “everyone was calm” and where they should be.
“Everyone did a wonderful job. They did exactly what we do every month,” added Roth, referring to fire alarm drills.
The superintendent was asked about repairing the HVAC system. Roth said the school received the parts and the work was done Thursday afternoon. The students were out of school for parent-teacher conferences.
“It should be fixed by the evening,” Roth said.