, Derry, New Hampshire

June 13, 2012

Elevator problem sends Barka students outside

By Cara Hogan

Barka Elementary School evacuated students just before noon Tuesday after a fire alarm went off and staff members reported the smell of smoke in the building.

The alarm went off at 11:54 a.m. and three trucks from the Derry Fire Department were on the scene minutes later, according to Lt. Richard Houle.

"There was a slight odor of something electrical burning, but it was contained to the elevator shaft," he said. "There was no fire. We found a problem with the elevator. We shut down the elevator, shut off the power and the hydraulics."

The school contacted the elevator company, which is investigating the problem. Firefighters didn't know the cause of the electrical issue..

"The elevator company is en route and they'll handle it," Houle said.

Principal Daniel LaFleur said when the alarm was triggered, the administration immediately enacted the emergency plan and evacuated about 550 students at the K-5 school.

"I went through the building with the Fire Department and checked every area, including the roof," he said. "It was determined we could reoccupy the building."

Only about a half hour after the alarm went off, students filed back into the building, giving high-fives to firemen. All students were accounted for and the evacuation went smoothly, LaFleur said.

"We practice 10 fire drills throughout the year and we did two yesterday — one in the morning and one in the afternoon," he said Tuesday. "It's ironic that this happened today."

District superintendent Mary Ellen Hannon came by to make sure everything was OK at the school.

"I think it was handled beautifully by the school," she said. "I got a call and by the time I got here, it's all done."

LaFleur said the elevator company investigated and balmed the problem on a fan that stopped working.

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