A thunderstorm and ensuing power outage knocked out electricity at multiple Springer Public Schools’ buildings leaving behind flickering lights, panicked parents and the smell of something burning.
The strong smell alarmed faculty and staff, who unplugged electronics and moved students into the cafeteria at the elementary school as a precaution. However, no signs of fire or a lightning strike were found. Springer, Gene Autry and Ardmore Air Park Fire Departments responded, along with Carter County Emergency Management.
“It smells like electrical burn, but we’re not sure what’s going on right now,” Springer Fire Chief Denny Meeks said. “It’s probably a surge with the storm that came through. I think it’s going to be low voltage, not getting enough power, and we’re just trying to protect equipment in case something does happen to spark, but it shouldn’t.”
Lights were either out or flickering throughout the campus, and firefighters turned off electrical devices as a precaution as electricians examined the campus. Meeks said parts of Springer experienced outages as well.
“Town-wide, a lot of houses are the same way,” Meeks said.
Springer Superintendent Cynthia Hunter said the outage coincided with loud thunder at 2 p.m., which was alarming, but responding firefighters didn’t find any evidence that any of the school buildings were struck by lightning.
“We called the fire department out because we smelled that electrical smell,” Hunter said as the lights in her office flickered erratically. “It appears that there’s a problem on the OG&E side, so we’re not getting enough power, which is causing the cycling. We won’t know until we get our power back.”
Many parents pulled students out of the elementary school early as firefighters examined the elementary school building, the library and the administration building. With the phones disabled, faculty and staff communicated with cellphones and responded to parents through the district’s Facebook page.