An incident that started in the shared kitchen area of Langston Chapel Middle and Elementary Schools forced an evacuation of the schools Wednesday morning that lasted a little more than half an hour.
Hayley Greene, the public relations and marketing specialist for Bulloch County Schools, said a piece of equipment in the kitchen emitted steam after a loud popping sound, and the fire alarm was pulled about 8:40 a.m. Only staff was in the kitchen at the time and no one was injured in the incident, she said.
"All students exited both schools just like a fire drill in an orderly manner, following the directions of their teachers and staff to their assigned areas outside the school," Greene said.
The Statesboro Fire Department responded quickly and, following a thorough inspection of the kitchen, determined there was no danger, Greene said. Fire officials issued an "all clear" sign at 9:17 a.m. and the schools were reopened.
While the middle and elementary schools have separate cafeterias, they share a common kitchen that actually connects the schools.
Kitchen personnel were beginning preparations for lunch when a piece of commercial kitchen equipment’s pop-off valve made a loud noise and released a large amount of steam, which was mistaken for smoke. Kitchen staff pulled the fire alarm, which alerted the fire department to the scene.
As a precaution, all food that was being prepared prior to the incident was discarded. For Wednesday only, students were served a sack lunch option of sandwiches and fruit. The normal school lunch will be served Thursday.
"We always have a fire drill the first week at each school, so Langston Chapel got theirs a little early," Greene said.