Faulty ventilation motor caused evacuation of schoolHudson Fire Chief Jim Frye said a faulty motor for the air exchange system at Willow River Elementary School set off the fire alarms at the school shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday.
Hudson Fire Chief Jim Frye said a faulty motor for the air exchange system at Willow River Elementary School set off the fire alarms at the school shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday.
"It got hot and started to smoke," Frye said of the motor, located in the basement level of the three-level building.
The smoke traveled through air ducts and entered the school's main-level kitchen and cafeteria.
A smoke detector in the duct work was the first alarm to sound, according to Frye.
School personnel evacuated the building, located on Fourth Street between St. Croix and Oak streets, when the alarms went off.
Fire crews from three departments were notified of the alarm at the school.
The first call came to the Hudson Fire Department with the report of a fire alarm activated. Shortly thereafter, there were reports of a strong chemical smell coming from the kitchen area of the school.
Hudson soon called for mutual aid from two departments -- the town of St. Joseph Fire Department and Lower St. Croix Valley (Afton-Lakeland).
School Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten said all students and faculty were evacuated safely from the school after the alarms sounded, and that the Hudson Fire Department and St. Croix EMS responded quickly to the scene.
The alarms went off about 30 minutes before the regular end of classes at 3:25 p.m.
Bowen-Eggebraaten said students were taken next door to St. Patrick School to board buses.
Willow River Principal Dave Grambow and teachers also organized the pickup of students by parents and dismissed students who normally walk home, she said.
The after-school care program was moved to an alternate location.
Bowen-Eggebraaten said information about the fire would be posted on the school district website, www.hudson.k12.wi.us. She said the district also would be contacting members of the Willow River Elementary parents group.
Frye said the smoke has been cleared from the school. He said there were no flames. All of the smoke originated from the overheated motor.