CEDAR CITY — A fire alarm at East Elementary in Cedar City led to a 30-minute evacuation of the school on Wednesday afternoon 

Students in Mrs. Jeanette Blackner’s fifth grade class huddle under blankets outside East Elementary School during a fire alarm response, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 7, 2024 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Cedar City Fire Capt. Lowell Sorensen said at 1:32 p.m., the fire department was paged to respond to a report of a possible structure fire at East Elementary, which is located at 225 E. 70 South.

“When we got there, there was no smoke visible,” he said. “However, there was the smell of smoke.”

Sorensen said a fire alarm had been pulled and all of the students and staff had safely evacuated the building and had gone to their designated areas outside on the playgrounds. 

“Great job on that. They saw that the students were out,” Sorensen said. “Everybody did what they were supposed to do.”

Firefighters then went inside the building and onto its roof to try to find the source of the smoky smell.

“The smoke was in the gymnasium,” Sorensen said. “We did, through some investigation, find a swamp cooler on the roof, where the motor had caused a little bit of smoke to go into the gymnasium.

Cedar City Fire Department personnel walk along the roof of East Elementary School, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 7, 2024 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“It took us a little bit to just verify 100% that’s where the smoke came from. But just after 2 o’clock, we were letting the kids back in the school.”

No injuries were reported and there was no damage to the building, Sorensen said.

Engines and crews from all three Cedar City Fire Department fire stations responded to the incident, Sorensen added. Also at the scene were multiple Cedar City Police officers, an Iron County Sheriff’s deputy and Gold Cross Ambulance personnel.

“The kids were pretty excited to get to see the fire trucks,” Sorensen said. “We came in with lights and sirens, of course.”

According to Iron County School District figures, East Elementary has a current enrollment of approximately 550 students. The existing building, more than 70 years old, is in the process of being replaced by a newer one being constructed adjacent to it. Ground was broken on the project in May 2023.

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