Small fire at Franklin City elementary school causes students, staff to evacuate

Posted at 4:53 PM, Mar 17, 2021

FRANKLIN, Va. - S.P. Morton Elementary School students and staff were evacuated from the building on Wednesday due to a fire.

Around 12:20 p.m., Principal Thornton said she was alerted by staff that there was a smell of smoke near the main lobby.

Principal Thornton saw smoke and alerted the FCPS Operations Team and the fire department.

Students and staff were quickly told to exit the building before the fire department arrived.

“Students were immediately evacuated and transported to J.P. King, Jr. Middle School and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center while still adhering to social distancing and CDC guidelines,” said Principal Thornton.

When firefighters arrived they found flames after moving one of the ceiling tiles in the main lobby.

The school's maintenance supervisor, Dan Custer, said they had a run start capacitor for the air conditioning system fail and catch fire. It melted some wires and fell down in the unit and was smoldering.

Custer said it was a very small fire, about the size of a fist and that the failure was unusual.

Failed capacitator.PNG
Failed capacitor

“I’ve been doing this for 35 years and that’s the first time I’ve seen a capacitor catch on fire,” he said.