Burnt Extension Cord Prompts Brief Evacuation at EGHS

by | Dec 13, 2023

Frustration runs high with students, parents after third problem in less than a month 

Co-written with Andrew Belfry

A smell of sulfur in the EGHS science wing prompted fire officials to evacuate students to the lower gym and the auditorium for about an hour Wednesday morning, until EGFD found it was a single burnt extension cord that caused the alarm. 

According to Supt.  Brian Ricca, EGFD and Warwick Fire evaluated 10 students who said the smell had affected them. No students needed additional medical attention. 

The extension cord was plugged into a space heater in the greenhouse “to protect what was growing there,” according to Supt. Brian Ricca. “That is the only space heater we have at EGHS.”

In addition, he said that a motor for a portable generator used at the school malfunctioned this morning and had to be swapped out for a new one, which is “functioning currently as expected.” When asked about the timetable for fixing the heating problem that facilitates the need for the generator, he said, “We are hopeful that the final repairs will be made during the winter holiday break.”

This marks the second time in less than three weeks that EGHS students and staff were forced to evacuate during school hours. In addition, the lack of heat on multiple days in November, along with a power outage earlier this week, resulted in students not being in the building at all. 

Frustration may have hit a breaking point, with parents and students venting on social media and in texts and emails to EG News. 

EG parent Maureen Norris turned to Facebook to post, “Evacuations, early dismissals, closures. No heat. Our faculty, staff, and administration at the high school deserve better.” She went on to post, in part, “I am completely frustrated with the current state of the building. Remediation work needs to begin immediately to ensure the safe and proper education of our children and to ensure a safe workplace for the faculty, staff and administration. I strongly suggest a reconsideration of the allocation of funds to the high school from our newly passed bond.”

”Please know that this situation is unrelated to the power outage earlier this week that was caused by the storm, Supt. Ricca said in a public statement about the Wednesday morning incident. “Neither today’s circumstances nor the power outage is related to the lack of heat that caused us to close school on the last two days of November.” 

In a follow-up with EG News, Ricca said, “Everything that is visible in the high school is in good shape. Our facilities director sees to that on an annual basis and an as-needed basis. There are five spots in the building that have buried pipes – we had our heating problem in one of them. We are hopeful to have that repair completed by the end of the Winter Holiday Break.” 

He added, “We take these types of situations seriously at EGPS and we are happy to report our students and staff at EGHS did an excellent job responding to this incident,” Ricca said in a statement. “I understand the frustration and know that we will address it, the way we always do, one student at a time.”

Value what you read here on EG News? Support our work! Now is a great time, with donations matched! Click HERE

Value the news you get here on East Greenwich News? As a 501-c3, we depend on reader support. Become a sustaining (monthly) donor or make a one-time donation! Click on the Donate button below or send a check to EG News, 18 Prospect St., East Greenwich, RI 02818. Thanks.

Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
December 13, 2023 10:23 pm

All these issues in the high school is completely unacceptable. The students deserve a better & safer learning environment. The staff deserves better too.

How about we look at the grant money allocated to the high school and rethink that decision. More needs to be put towards the high school. Plain and simple.


Newsletter Sign Up

* indicates required


Latest Streaming