AHWAHNEE – Students arriving at school this morning in Ahwahnee, after an unplanned vacation due to the Junction Fire, were temporarily displaced once again when fire alarms sounded.
Just before 8 a.m. this morning, a report came in of a burning smell and alarms going off at the Wasuma Elementary School.
Firefighters were immediately dispatched and arrived on scene within minutes. After doing a thorough inspection of the building, including the attic, it was determined that the belt on one of the three air conditioners on the roof was out of alignment and smoking.
As children arrived at school, they were escorted out into the field on the campus, just as they have been trained to do during their monthly fire drills, and the school sent out an automated call to parents to inform them of the situation.
Principal Jason Mercier says everyone was very calm, and that the staff responded well to the emergency, making sure the kids were reassured and felt comfortable.
“We do have some special needs kids here who may have issues when their schedules are off, but they were fine,” says Mercier, who credits the staff with that result. There are 305 children enrolled at the school.
All the fire engines responding staged in the dirt lot near the school as the situation was evaluated by firefighters first on scene, and were then released.
By 8:40 a.m., everything was declared good to go, and students returned to their classrooms, only 30 minutes late.
The faulty air conditioner was shut off until repairs can be made, but the two remaining units are keeping the kids cool throughout most of the building.
The one area that was most affected by the lack of air conditioning was the office, “Pretty much my office,” says Principal Mercier, who visited each classroom after school resumed to make sure all the students were doing well.