Last Updated: Jan. 10, 2:00 p.m.
LANHAM – For two consecutive days, students were evacuated following small fire incidents at DuVal High School in Lanham.
The first incident took place on Jan. 9. According to Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, a fire broke out and quickly extinguished in a toilet at approximately 11:45 a.m. while students were in class. The fire alarm rang out, and students performed a fire drill evacuation out of the building. According to PGFD, nobody was injured or transported to the hospital.
Tenth grader Mac Anthony Ike said that he saw smoke from “the corner of my eye” once one of the hallway doors opened. He began recording the incident and posted it on his Twitter account. The video shows students rushing to exit the building as the smoke entered the hallway.
“Everybody was able to get out safely, and nobody was harmed,” Ike said. “The main focus was to get everyone out of there, and I think they (DuVal officials) handled it to the best of their abilities.”
Once the students evacuated the building, their school day did not end there. Some were sent to nearby Robert Goddard Montessori School and Catherine T. Reed Elementary School until the end of the school day. Others were allowed to stay at DuVal but only given access to the annex side of the building.
Edres Tlapechco, a 10th grader, said as he evacuated the building, he saw smoke in the hallway. When he returned inside, the building had a “burnt smell.”
Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) officials said that safety is their “top priority,” and students were separated while “building services work to assess (the) damage and clean the building.” The school’s administration announced that after school activities and athletic practices were canceled.
School reopened the following day, Jan. 10, when reports of another fire were sent out by students via social media. An anonymous tip claimed that the second incident occurred in one the restrooms in the “10s” hallway, forcing students to evacuate the school building. PGFD said that the incident took place at 12:34 p.m. and Prince George’s County Police (PGPD) joined their investigators at the scene.
A PGCPS official confirmed the fire, calling it a “copycat” incident. No students were hurt and were able to return back to class once the building was cleared. DuVal school officials said that all after school activities planned for Jan. 10 will still take place.
This is a developing story. As more information comes in, follow us @PGSentinel for the most up-to-date information.