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Students evacuated after fire at North Shore Elementary

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Updated: 1/24 10:19 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's as if nothing ever happened. Not even a brick is out of place at North Shore Elementary School.

That wasn't the case earlier on Friday. School officials tell Action News a smoky air handling unit inside a classroom prompted an immediate evacuation to the nearby football field at Andrew Jackson. Kids as young as 5 filed out of the school.

"It was a little fire," said 5-year-old Harold Peterson.

We hear it may have been caused by the unit's filter being replaced earlier that day. School officials say something caused the insulation to smolder.

Once teachers spotted smoke, crews rushed in, police tape went up and firefighters worked to get things under control inside while school officials followed the drill they'd practiced outside.

"They followed that process perfectly. The school did an outstanding job. It was orderly. It was calm," said Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Division Chief Marty Senterfitt.

When it was time to pick up the children, parents say everything was chaotic.

"Of course I panicked. She called and said the school was on fire," said mother Sheree Saxby.

Some parents became impatient and many children left the field shivering and in tears.


"Because how fast the situation happened they were unable to grab their coats or book bags," said Saxby.

Parents are just glad the kids are OK and the school can open again Monday.

When we asked school officials about how parents can retrieve their child's belongings, they told us they plan to open North Shore's doors on Saturday from 12 to 2 p.m. so parents can get whatever they left behind.
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