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Alkek: Where there's smoke, but no fire

By Stephanie Parker

When is a thing that is not the thing it was thought to be a good thing? The answer to this convoluted riddle is: when someone smells smoke at a school and there is no fire.

At approximately 10:15 am on Wednesday, Jan. 21, students at Alkek Elementary School were evacuated after a “smoke smell” was detected.

The Bandera Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched on a call for “smoke in the office.”

Fortunately, the “smoke” turned out to be an odor emanating from secondary heating coils that turned on for the first time this year on the unusually cold morning.

January is typically the coldest month in Bandera, averaging 50 degrees with typical highs in the 60s and lows in the 30s.

With the unexpected odor wafting into the library and surrounding areas, students were immediately moved outside to their usual safe zones - pre-established during routine fire drills. While students remained under the supervision of Alkek teachers and staff, the fire department and employees with the Bandera Independent School District maintenance department investigated the cause of the odor.

Finding no fire, no smoke and safe conditions, the fire department left the school at 10:45 am and students returned to their classrooms at 11:15 am to resume their day under a modified schedule.

Alkek Principal Jon Orozco praised the school staff’s quick action. “Our staff acted professionally and did exactly what we have practiced throughout the year during our drills,” he said.
“I was proud to see everyone remain calm which kept all of our students very calm.”