Fire alarm causes lunchtime campus evacuation

School officials confirm that alarm was not a prank but firefighters find no fire or smoke during campus search


Olivia Capochiano

Austin Fire Department personnel arrive at Mac in response to a fire alarm that went off inside the school during lunch today.

Scarlett Houser, staff reporter

The campus was evacuated after a fire alarm went off during lunch today. Students and faculty exited the building while Austin Fire Department personnel investigated the building.

“The fire department looked at it,” assistant principal Gabe Reyes told the fourth period photojournalism class this afternoon. “There was no fire and no smoke.”

“The fire department looked at it. There was no fire and no smoke.

— assistant principal Gabe Reyes

In an email to the faculty, assistant principal Andy Baxa confirmed that AFD was unable to locate any heat sources in the walls or the ceilings so they gave administrators the all-clear to resume class. Students reported to third period a few minutes late and the day continued without incident.

Baxa added that there is a good chance that “critters in our ceiling,” “dust buildup” or the fact that McCallum is an older school caused the alarms to sound.

However, Reyes said that fire department technicians are coming back to campus to investigate the building to see if they can determine what set off the alarm. Baxa said that the school was evacuated only after administrators determined that the alarm was not caused by a pull station being activated.

Reyes said that the lunchtime fire alarm “is one of the hardest to account for,” and he praised the students for evacuating the building promptly and for not leaving campus while the threat was being investigated.

He said that the students on the north side of campus cheered for the firefighters as they entered the building to investigate.

Ironically, there was also a regular fire drill at the beginning of second period today.

Additional reporting by Cohen Johnson-Dye.