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Two schools evacuated briefly over false alarms

Two Spokane elementary schools were evacuated briefly Tuesday after false alarms.

At 7:20 a.m., fire crews responded to Stevens Elementary, 1717 E. Sinto Ave., after a report of a gas-like smell in the school’s kitchen.

Fire officials found that the kitchen’s ventilation system had been shut down over holiday break.

After a hazardous-materials crew checked air quality throughout the school and Avista crews checked natural gas lines, the ventilation system was restarted and students and teachers were allowed back in the building.

Three hours later, fire crews were dispatched to Arlington Elementary, 6363 N. Smith, after staff reported a smell of smoke in the school’s boiler room. No fire was found, and firefighters suspected the smell was caused by smoke from wood stoves in neighborhood homes being drawn into the school’s ventilation system.

Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer praised the staff at both schools for quickly evacuating students.

“Cooperation and assistance from Spokane Public Schools’ staff cannot be overstated,” Schaeffer said in a news release.

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