Holmstad residents helped during evacuation of Batavia Fine Arts Centre

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

BATAVIA – Officials at The Holmstad are happy about the kindness shown to those Holmstad residents who were evacuated Friday night from a concert at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre after a smoke alarm went off.

A malfunctioning heater triggered a fire alarm that disrupted the Elgin Symphony Orchestra’s concert that was about to start at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre on Friday night, along with a high school basketball game.

The Batavia Fine Arts Centre is housed in Batavia High School.

The high school gym and Batavia Fine Arts Center were evacuated about 7:25 p.m.

“A malfunctioning heater by the locker rooms in the ‘A’ hallway produced some smoke and activated a smoke detector,” Batavia Deputy Fire Chief Randy Banker said Monday.

Those attending the concert and basketball game were directed to the exit doors while firefighters assessed the situation.

Thirteen Holmstad residents attended the concert, in addition to many other individuals.

On Friday night, temperatures were frigid.

“There were some very kind, neighborly community members who allowed our residents to stay in their cars,” said Cathy Reese, resident services director at The Holmstad. “Our bus was inaccessible because it was on the other side of the parking lot. Very good things came out of a bad situation.”

Once firefighters determined the situation was safe, people were allowed to go into the school’s fieldhouse, Banker said.

Batavia Fine Arts Centre manager Dominic Cattero said the majority of the 540 people who bought tickets ended up staying for the concert once it began at 8:22 p.m. The concert was supposed to start at 7:30 p.m.

“I think most people knew the evacuation was for their safety,” he said. “I didn’t see it affecting their evening, just delaying it. Everybody was appreciative of the efforts of the Batavia Police Department and Batavia Fire Department.”

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