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Norwalk's Brien McMahon Evacuated

NORWALK, Conn. – A squirrel indirectly sent Brien McMahon High School students and faculty out of the building Wednesday morning, according to Norwalk Fire Department Dept. Chief Edward Prescott.  The school was evacuated due to an electrical burning odor following a power outage caused by a squirrel, he said.

Firefighters were already on scene – an elevator got stuck between floors when the power went out at about 11:30 a.m. No one was hurt. Two students were in the elevator and called the main office for help, and texted friends. "The school made an announcement that there were two students stuck in the elevator, and then there was this electrical odor and that created this larger response," Prescott said.

Two fire engines, two trucks and a rescue and command car arrived at the school as students came out following the sounding of the fire alarm.

A squirrel got into a circuit breaker on Lenox Avenue, which runs parallel to school property, and took the power out of one of the three phases that runs into the school, Prescott said. As a result, two rooftop motors for ventilation units burned out. "So that was the cause of the odor," he said. "Two school electricians responded, CL&P responded, and building maintenance and the head custodial staff."

The motors are supposed to run on three phases but were on two, he said, adding "there's supposed to be safeties but some of the motors don't catch it on time and it causes them to burn out or there's an electrical malfunction."

Students were out of the school for about an hour, and were allowed back inside just as it began to sprinkle.

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