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Smoke leads to Morrow High evacuation

MORROW — Some students got a cold but smoky start to their morning Tuesday.

Clayton County Public Schools spokesman David Waller said officials evacuated an early-arriving crowd at Morrow High School as fire safety officials attempted to uncover the origins of smoke in the building.

He said the school at 2299 Old Rex Morrow Road dates back to the 1960s. It has a student enrollment of about 1,500.

A preliminary investigation revealed the source was something “inadvertently left in the heating ducts,” said Waller.

“They are renovating the school and they switched over some new duct work,” he said. “It happened around 7:30 a.m., so students were just arriving.”

Temperatures at that time hovered in the low-30s.

Morrow High students and faculty were immediately redirected to Elite Scholars Academy on the neighboring campus. Students at the year-round academy were on break at the time.

“Any time there is a potential danger at a school, we’re going to get our kids out,” said Waller. “That’s always our first priority — taking care of them. We were fortunate to have a facility next door that they could go to so they wouldn’t have to stand out in the cold.”

He said the evacuation lasted an hour and no injuries were reported.

“We may have five or fewer [evacuations] a year,” he said. “Sometimes a person may smell smoke or two or three students will feel noxious at the same time. But it is not something that happens often.”