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Air conditioning unit floods Kishwaukee College with smoke

MALTA – Jered Marrs, an 18-year-old freshman at Kishwaukee College, was in math class around 8:45 a.m. Wednesday morning when the fire alarms in the college’s “B” wing began to ring.

“The fire alarms went off and then we started walking back to the parking lot,” Marrs said, adding he saw smoke as he was exiting the building. “And we got a school notification that all school was canceled til 10 a.m. until they figured out what was going on.”

A crowd of people huddled outside Kishwaukee College Wednesday after it was briefly evacuated as firefighters responded to a fire call at the school. DeKalb County Sheriff’s deputies turned away oncoming cars attempting to enter campus for a short time while fire crews investigated. Motorists were allowed to leave campus, however, and traffic was backed up on Route 38 near the college as first responders did their work.

Malta Fire Chief Jim Mohns said the problem occurred when a motor on an air conditioning unit in the attic of the building failed, causing smoke to flood into classrooms below. He said the air conditioning unit did not catch fire, and shut itself off.

“When the fire alarm goes out, that means you’ve got to get out,” Mohns said. “The safety system did what it was supposed to do.”

People evacuated the building, and firefighters went in to make sure there were no flames anywhere inside. Firefighters later ventilated the building.

Normal second-period classes resumed at 10 a.m., while the interrupted first-period classes that were affected by the evacuations began again at 11 a.m., said David Dammon, executive director of campus operations at the college.

Dammon said six classrooms on the first and second floors of the wing were directly affected by smoke, and needed to be cleaned Wednesday morning, but did not anticipate any lasting property damage. He said the classes scheduled to be held there relocated to other rooms.

No injuries were reported.

Firefighters from several departments, including DeKalb, Sycamore, Malta, Rochelle, Shabbona, and Genoa-Kingston were on the scene, along with DeKalb County Sheriff’s deputies. The box alarm that called them there was struck out around 9:45 a.m. The parking lot was cleared by 10:15 a.m.

A previous version of this story spelled Jered Marrs’ name wrong. The Daily Chronicle regrets the error.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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