We Didn’t Start The Fire: Rocky Hill Evacuated

Rocky Hill MS, seen above, had a fire emergency on Monday Dec. 9 and was forced to evacuate to Clarksburg.

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Rocky Hill MS, seen above, had a fire emergency on Monday Dec. 9 and was forced to evacuate to Clarksburg.

Kara Peeler, Sagun Shrestha, and Julian King

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After a fire broke out at Rocky Hill Middle School, students and staff were evacuated and sent to CHS Monday, Dec. 9 around 12:45 p.m. CHS welcomed the evacuees, and incoming people were sent to the auxiliary gym and the cafeteria to await further instruction. 

Here, CHS and RHMS staff alike supervised the middle schoolers. CHS Principal Edward Owusu made an announcement informing students that the “general common area and the breezeway” were blocked off to high school students in order to avoid further chaos. 

“All I know was that I got a call saying that students, they needed to evacuate, where every school has a shelter place [evacuation location]. We are that place for Rocky Hill, and so they were coming. We had about four or five minutes to get ready,” said principal Edward Owusu.

Upon hearing this news during class time, CHS students were struck with concern, querying teachers for more details. However, this was the first time teachers were hearing about the incident too. By around 1:30 p.m., the middle school students began transitioning back to their own school after the fire emergency was resolved and RHMS was safe for return. 

“I heard [from my brother] that it was pretty big and it started in the gym from a light bulb that burst,” said junior Sofia Vargas-Vidal whose brother goes to RHMS. “I do think his safety was threatened potentially.”

Immediately following this transition, CHS staff received an email describing the incident. Around the same time, Chief Spokesperson for the MoCo Fire and Rescue Service, Peter Piringer, went to Twitter to confirm the details. He reported that the fire took place in the gymnasium after the “light fixture caught combustibles on fire.” The firefighters worked to clear the smoke before allowing students to return. 

“I thought the fire couldn’t be too bad since the humidity was high, but it’s still dangerous for all the kids,” said sophomore Megan Lam whose sister goes to Rocky Hill Middle School.

Though originally hectic and confusing, the fire emergency was quickly resolved and little harm was done to the overall Clarksburg community. Luckily, CHS and RHMS were able to work together in order to minimize damages, ensuring a calm and safe reaction to the problem.

“I thought [the handling] was fantastic. I think the staff, the security especially, and the admin team did fantastic. It was raining outside, so they were out in the rain, just directing the students and making them feel safe,” said Owusu.