Reported structure fire at elementary school

No fire – ‘something burning’ in cafeteria 

By Kevin Spradlin

HAMLET — Members of the Hamlet Fire Department and other first-responders were dispatched early Monday afternoon to a reported structure fire at Monroe Avenue Elementary School in Hamlet.

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 12.36.08 PMA caller to emergency dispatch indicated flames could be seen coming from the ceiling of the school, located at 400 Monroe Ave., two blocks from State Route 177 North. The call came in at about 12:24 p.m. Public safety officials advised that students were to be evacuated to the Memorial Park gymnasium across the street.

Within three minutes, however, it was reported there was no structure fire at the school; instead, that something was burning inside the school cafeteria.

Update 1:05 p.m.: Principal Dawn Terry said the school’s front desk took a call from the cafeteria manager, who reported a “burning smell” coming from the cafeteria, which is a detached building. The front desk receptionist interpreted that to mean a call to 911 was necessary.

“She made the call while I headed to the cafeteria, urgently,” Terry said.

“When I arrived, there was, in fact, a burning smell, but no fire,” Terry said. “There was no fire.”

The initial report of a caller indicating seeing flames coming from the ceiling or roof of the building “was not true,” she said.

Terry said the Hamlet fire and rescue personnel “came expeditiously” and inspected the area. They found that the smell came from a burned-out motor from an air-conditioning unit. Richmond County Schools maintenance personnel also responded.

“There was no danger to anybody at any time,” Terry said.

Firefighters cleared the building and “lunches have resumed in the same building,” Terry said.

Terry added that RCS maintenance personnel are on site working to replace the burned-out motor.

Richmond County Sheriff’s Office also personnel responded to the scene. Deputies cleared the scene at 12:40 p.m.


Filed in: Education, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety

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