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Berlin school evacuated.

Byline: Jan Gottesman

BERLIN - For the students, it felt like a St. Patrick's Day treat. But it could have been a bit more serious.

Berlin Memorial School staff smelled an odor Tuesday morning and called the Fire Department, at approximately 11 a.m., ultimately evacuating for about 45 minutes.

"It was just a precaution," said Principal Carol Bradley.

Later in the afternoon, a boiler technician found a problem with the ballast that caused the smell.

At 11:02 a.m., the Berlin Emergency Dispatch Center received a report of the odor, similar to burning rubber or plastic, at the school, 34 South St.

The Fire Department searched for the source of the odor using thermal imagers and gas meters; they found nothing. Students were allowed to return after the school was determined to be safe.

The evacuation went as practiced, Bradley said.

"Everything ran smoothly," she said. "We have had a number of drills with students and the Crisis Committee put procedures in place. Everything went according to procedure. The children went out quietly and orderly."

Designated staff people had walkie talkies to keep in touch. The nice weather made the evacuation seem more like an outing.

"The kids thought it was some type of St. Patrick's Day celebration," Bradley said, adding that the Fire Department responded quickly to the school. "We have a great relationship with them."
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Mar 20, 2009
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