Students waited on their buses outside Harlan County High School on Thursday while officials searched for a possible cause of the smell of smoke on the second floor of the building.
According to Harlan County Emergency Management Director David McGill, he responded to a call received at approximately 7 a.m. concerning smoke on the second floor of Harlan County High School.
McGill stated the Harlan City Fire Department and the Sunshine Fire Department also responded to the scene.
“Upon arrival, there was a smoke smell on the second floor,” McGill said. “It was contained to the second floor.”
McGill said an investigation was conducted using thermal imaging equipment.
“We went through the entire school to make sure everything was all clear,” McGill said. “We didn’t find any fire or anything of that nature.”
McGill added students had not yet entered the school and did not have to be evacuated.
“They (the students) were kept on buses,” McGill said.
McGill added an investigation is ongoing to determine the source of the smoke odor.
“We were not able to find anything anywhere,” McGill said. “We checked everything thoroughly. We were there for approximately two hours. We also contacted the state fire marshal’s office, which is routine.”
McGill explained anytime a public building is involved in such an incident, the fire marshal’s office must be contacted.
“They will probably be following up as well,” McGill said. “When we left, there was no smoke smell present.”
McGill said classes were delayed until the all clear was given at approximately 9 a.m.
The Harlan County Sheriff’s Office and Harlan City Police Department assisted at the scene. Trans-Star Ambulance Service also responded and waited on standby at the scene in case of any injuries. No injuries were reported due to the incident.
According to a statement on the Harlan County Public Schools Facebook page, a smoke smell was detected by personnel at Harlan County High School prior to students’ arrival. Firefighters from Harlan and Sunshine volunteer fire departments went room to room to make certain there was no fire. All students were kept outside the building until the all clear was received from fire personnel.
Harlan County Public Schools also addressed another issue on their Facebook page concerning rumors at Cumberland Elementary School of a threat and the school being placed on lockdown.
According to the Harlan County Public Schools Facebook post, rumors of an alleged threat at Cumberland Elementary School and the school being placed on lock down are unfounded. Officials have thoroughly investigated the report and it has been determined to be false and without any validity. Students misconstrued a statement by a student urging a memorial tribute for school shooting victims. Speculative Facebook posts have created havoc for school officials and concerned parents. The Harlan County School District takes student safety very serious and all threats are investigated. Student safety is our top priority. We asked that you refrain from posting speculative and false information which creates fear among our students and parents. Anytime you have a concern, please contact your child’s school or the central office at 606-573-4330.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde.