Updated: Small Fire Reported In Churchill Auditorium

Students and staff at Churchill were evacuated as Montgomery County Fire officials responded to a small fire in the Potomac high school's auditorium.

UPDATED, 4:30 p.m.: A small fire in the auditorium of Winston Churchill High School has been extinguished, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Capt. Oscar Garcia.

Students and staff members at the Potomac high school were safely evacuated and remained outside as MCFR officials continued to check the building and remove smoke from the auditorium.

At 12:46 p.m., students and staff were allowed to re-enter the building after spending more than an hour outside and missing all of the school's 5th period classes.

According to Churchill students on the scene, the fire alarm was pulled and students could tell it wasn't just a drill. The school has fire drills once per month for about 10-20 minutes, the students said.

"The kids reactions were all very confused. No one knew what was actually going on except that there was a fire in the auditorium," said Eliza Farha, a student at Churchill. "The teachers made sure that everyone was kept safe and far away from the school until we were allowed to go back in."

Farha said that while students felt well-prepared because of previous drills, today's alarm was a little confusing because it came during lunch when drills aren't usually scheduled.

Classes normally held around the area of the auditorium were moved to the cafeteria to finish out the day, after students returned to the school.

MCFR received a call at approximately 11:30 a.m. to report the fire near the podium in Churchill's auditorium, Garcia said. Firefighters arrived on the scene seven minutes later.

The fire broke out at an electrical cord near a podium in the school's auditorium, and has been ruled accidental, Garcia said. The estimated damage is $5,000.

Medical treatment was administered to two people, not in relation to the fire, Garica said.

Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson Dana Tofig said they have no additional information.

brennameans March 21, 2012 at 05:18 PM
it was at the end of lunch, so it was a little chaotic. the podium in the auditorium caught fire due to wiring (what i have been told by a fellow student who works in the tech department and was near the auditorium at the time). everyone was safely evacuated. a few students suffered from asthma attacks but every one is ok and we are back in school
zach wolpoff March 21, 2012 at 05:44 PM
also people were really confused if it was a prank or a real one. some people did walk out during the drill because it was just too long for them and they thought that we were going to be out of school for the rest of today& possibly tommorow. there is a side of the school bove the auditourim that is closed off and thoes classes are in the cafiteria. we cant get things in there at this time.
Katie Griffith (Editor) March 21, 2012 at 08:40 PM
We're glad you all are safe!
Divya Pillai March 21, 2012 at 11:43 PM
this was a very scary time for me and my best friends as I was standing there on the field of WCHS I was looking at how many ambulances and firetrucks were coming and they were very scary to look at because you don't know what could happen! I was very and very happy to tell you that everyone is very safe and that there is no harm! Although the only sad thing is that there is still that memory of the fire in our students head and teachers head! But after the fire I had gotten the chance to talk to a fire deputy officer and he had told me that there was a wire that had triggered the fire and that the sad thing is that he had to take a few students to the nurse for injuries but not any danger or severe injuries! THANK YOU !!!!!
Divya Pillai March 21, 2012 at 11:43 PM
very scary i agree but it is good that god was there to protect all the students and teachers that attend and teach WCHS!!!!!!
Divya Pillai March 21, 2012 at 11:44 PM
i thought it was a prank too!!!!!!!!!
Divya Pillai March 21, 2012 at 11:49 PM
i am a student of WCHS and to tell you the fact we are safe so Thank you !!!
Katie Griffith (Editor) March 22, 2012 at 06:14 PM
We are very glad that everyone made it out of the school safely. Please make sure you are all looking out for each other's safety in another way, too. Check out this article on Internet safety and privacy, and remember that treating each other kindly on the Internet is an important part of that safety: http://potomac.patch.com/articles/attorney-general-holds-community-forum-on-internet-safety-and-privacy
Ezra Kurlansky March 22, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Hello. I was one of three students who discovered the fire, and went searching for it. It's funny, because it all started from one of use who smelled barbecue, and went searching for it. We opened the door the the back of the auditorium, and there was smoke everywhere, along with flames about the size of one of the desks at school. As soon as we saw it, we ran to the nearest classroom, opened the door, and yelled, "THERE'S A FIRE ON THE STAGE." At that point, we gathered our things and walked outside, telling people that there was a real fire.
Divya Pillai March 22, 2012 at 08:50 PM
thank u u saved our lives!!!!!
Jack March 23, 2012 at 02:56 AM
http://www.wjla.com/articles/2012/03/duncan-seguin-rockville-teen-honored-for-saving-a-life-and-his-school-74048.html This kid^


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