Office workers get 50-minute 'smoke break' Air conditioner's hot motor blamed CENTRAL -- Union Mills * Westminster * Sandymount * Finksburg

September 02, 1993|By Bill Talbott | Bill Talbott,Staff Writer

An overheated air-conditioner motor on the third floor of a Westminster office building set off a smoke alarm yesterday afternoon and provided about 150 workers with an unexpected outing.

The workers -- some of them employees of Carroll County and others employed by physicians in the Winchester Building -- spent their unscheduled 50-minute break at a safe distance from the building. Some worked; others watched firefighters come and go.

Fire equipment from Westminster, Reese and Pleasant Valley responded to the 2:35 p.m. alarm at 125 N. Court St.

Firefighters found heavy smoke on the third floor of the building, in the area occupied by the State's Attorney's Office.

"The air conditioner in one half of the office was not working today, and then the smoke started coming out of the ventilation system," said State's Attorney Thomas Hickman.

Westminster Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Alexander said maintenance workers discovered a short circuit in an electric motor on the third floor but no fire was found in the building.

Several employees, including one of the assistant state's attorneys, brought their work outside with them and continued their activities -- either working at a picnic table behind the building or dictating into a tape recorder while sitting on the front lawn.

Many employees passed the time standing or sitting in the shade of trees lining the rear parking lot.

They were allowed to return to their offices at 3:25 p.m., some just in time to get off at 3:30 p.m.

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