Volunteers from the Red Hill Fire Company responded to a report of smoke-alarm activation around 1:45 Monday afternoon at the Upper Perkiomen High School, 2 Walt Road in Pennsburg.
Upon arrival, firefighters found the alarm activation was in the 100 wing of the building with no indication of smoke or fire there. The alarm was reset and it went off again a few minutes later in the 400 wing. There, firefighters found a smoke condition and Red Hill Chief Scott Alderfer called in a second alarm assignment to bring additional volunteers and equipment to the scene. Firefighters searched the building for about 30 minutes to find the cause of the smoky condition.
The incident was investigated by Alderfer who reported that "a leak in a roof-top air conditioning unit caused Freon to escape into the motor area and burn causing the smoky condition."
Alderfer said the unit was "red-tagged" and put out of service until it could be repaired or replaced. Damage was believed to be minimal but no estimate was available.
Students and staff were safely evacuated to the seating area of the nearby stadium, and they were also dismissed from the stadium. Students boarded busses in the north parking lot, away from fire apparatus and equipment.
Officials posted a notice on the school's website Tuesday afternoon during the incident stating, "At about 1:45 this afternoon an electric motor overheated in the high school shop area setting off smoke detectors and fire alarms. Students were safely evacuated to the stadium from where they were dismissed. Because of this, buses will be running approximately 45 minutes late this afternoon. The high school has been declared safe and is open again for normal activities. However, all high school after school activities have been canceled for today. High school students should report to school at regular time tomorrow morning. They should report to their MOD 4 class by 7:40AM. WMCTC buses will be held until students are able to gather their belongings. Thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter."
All units cleared the scene around 2:50 p.m.
Fire and fire police units responded from East Greenville, Green Lane, Hereford, Pennsburg, Skippack and Upper Frederick Fire Companies in Montgomery County; Hereford Fire Company from Berks County; and Milford Township, Trumbauersville and Quakertown Fire Companies in Bucks County.
An emergency medical services unit from Upper Perkiomen Valley Ambulance Association also responded to check students in the stadium area for affects or other medical needs.