Kids and adults conquer fears to evacuate school near Blue Grass fire

Firefighters battled intense heat from fire and extremely cold weather conditions to fight an industrial fire in Blue Grass, Iowa.

Volunteer firefighters were called to Rich Metals just after 9 a.m.  Smoke could be seen for miles.

All employees were able to evacuate safely, but the building is said to be a total loss.

The situation caused a variety of challenges for firefighters.

“Intense heat, a lot of smoke and very icy conditions,” said Blue Grass Fire Chief Brian Seamer. “Slippery, that was the biggest problem. We were sliding all over the place.”

Despite the brutal weather and tough conditions, no firefighters were hurt.

As firefighters battled high above and close to the ground, nearby Blue Grass Elementary School stepped into action.  The school was evacuated out of an abundance of caution.

“When the announcement came, I was kind of freaking out,” said Lauren Durst, 9, a fourth grader at the school.

“It was a huge cloud,” added parent Veronica Vasquez. “If I wouldn’t have seen it on Facebook, I would have thought the school was on fire.”

Parents got a message from the school district to pick up their kids. Others traveled by bus to a nearby church.

Understandably, it was unsettling for youngsters and adults alike.

“Some seemed a little nervous,” said parent Mitchell Rostenvach.

“I’ve seen a couple of them crying,” added parent Toni Greenwalt. “But otherwise, I think the teachers did a good job.”

While children gathered inside the church, parents waited to take them home. The fire forced classes to be cancelled for the day.

“Get all your belongings and evacuate,” Durst recalled.

While the fire was scary enough for kids, the evacuation went very smoothly. It pinpointed the need to practice drills in schools.

It’s a routine for Blue Grass School that became a reality on Tuesday.

“If there’s a fire in the school, you have to evacuate,” Durst said.

With uncertainty just a few blocks away, the school reacted calmly and effectively.

“My kids are safe,” Vasquez concluded. “So I’m happy.”

Happy reunions in Blue Grass thanks to careful planning and practice.

Firefighters were still working to determine what caused the fire.

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