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Geneva High School evacuated after fan malfunctions

Published: Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 3:07 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 11:02 p.m. CDT
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(Nicole Weskerna – nweskerna@shawmedia.com)
Students leave Geneva High School on Thursday afternoon after a power outage caused a fan motor to start smoking in the gym area. Everyone safely left the building, which is closed for the rest of the evening as city of Geneva workers repair the electrical problems.

GENEVA – Everyone is safe after a malfunctioning fan caused police and firefighters to respond to Geneva High School on Thursday afternoon after the fan created smoke in the gym area, school officials said.

Geneva School District 304 Superintendent Kent Mutchler said the building lost power, causing a fan motor to burn up in the dance studio adjacent to Mack Olson Gym.

Smoke from the motor led the Geneva police and fire departments to respond. Mutchler said it was an isolated incident that happened shortly after the building lost electricity around 1 p.m. on Thursday, which was the second day of school.

Geneva Fire Chief Steve Olson said students were evacuated from the building for about 25 to 30 minutes once the fire alarm sounded. Fire officials were on scene at 2:04 p.m., he said, and students were able to re-enter the building around 2:30 p.m. to gather their belongings, according to a news release from District 304.

Olson said there were never any flames, but the motor on the air handler system overheated. The incident was isolated to the gym area.

Students were seen leaving school grounds shortly before 3 p.m. and Mutchler said parents were notified about the incident through the school's email system.

"We used all our normal precautions," he said. "We're thankful the fire department and police came out so quickly."

He said some after-school activities were canceled Thursday afternoon. The building is expected to be shut down for the evening, Mutchler said, because city workers needed to shut off power for a few hours to make electrical repairs.

Activities that are not canceled include all levels of football, boys' and girls' cross country, and junior varsity and varsity soccer.

School is expected to resume as normal Friday.

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