Alarm causes minor scare

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2008

WESSON – It could have been a lot more serious at Lula StevensHall on the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Campus Monday whenfire departments were called to the scene for a fire alarm in thefour-story dormitory.

The smoke, which set off a fire alarm, was caused by a fan motorthat overheated on the first floor, said Copiah County CivilDefense Director Randle Drane. The situation was one that wouldhave required evacuation of the dorm had there been any students intown, but the college is on Spring Break this week.

The Stronghope and Wesson Volunteer Fire Departments searchedthe dorm for anyone who might have stayed behind, but no one was inthe building at the time. Luckily, officials said, there only onestudent was still in town staying at the dorm, but she was out atthe time of the alarm.

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“There’s always potential for something to be a lot moreserious,” said Drane. “You never know what the situation is untilyou get there, and you don’t ever want to underestimate it.”

Officials put the Brookhaven Fire Department and the Allen FireDepartment on standby in case they were needed to help search thebuilding for residents or if the fire got out of control. They werecanceled once the issue was contained.

Co-Lin Campus Police Chief Wayne Roberts said the fire alarmwent off when it detected the smoke, and the dorm mother, who wasalso still on campus, smelled the smoke.

The fire departments arrived and set up incident command on thestreet outside the dormitory so as to effectively coordinate searchefforts for residents and for the source of the smoke. He said theprocedure they followed is also Co-Lin policy in case of a fire ina campus building.

“It’s important to have those practices in place because of allthese students we have,” he said. “We’re lucky we’re on SpringBreak and there are very few here.”