Unfounded fears of a fire at Southwest Middle School caused evacuation of building, delayed start at neighboring school

photo by: Chris Conde

Southwest Middle School is pictured in this 2018 file photo.

Rooftop smoke and unfounded fears of a fire at Southwest Middle School caused the evacuation of that building and has resulted in a two-hour delay to the start of the school day at adjacent Sunflower Elementary.

A spokeswoman for Lawrence Public Schools said fire crews on Wednesday morning arrived at Southwest Middle School, 2511 Inverness Drive, but determined there was no fire on the roof of the school. Instead, the smoke was exhaust fumes from an operating boiler in the building.

By that time, middle school students and staff already had been evacuated from the building, and district officials had made the decision to start school at neighboring Sunflower Elementary two hours later than normal due to the commotion.

After fire department officials gave the all clear, students and staff were allowed to re-enter Southwest Middle School. The delayed start for Sunflower Elementary remains in place.

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