Folly Quarter Middle School pupils and staff were evacuated for about an hour yesterday because of smoke from a malfunctioning kiln in an art classroom, school and fire officials said.
In a letter to parents, Folly Quarter Principal Carl Perkins explained that the incident was compounded by work being done on the heat, ventilation and air-conditioning system.
Workers were replacing a part in the HVAC system and had temporarily shut off the air-handling system, said Patti Caplan, a school system spokeswoman.
No one was injured, and damage was confined to the kiln, said William Mould, the fire department's spokesman. It was not known what object was inside the kiln, he said.
About 30 firefighters responded to the school, on Triadelphia Road in Ellicott City, about 11:30 a.m., Mould said. About an hour later, firefighters allowed teachers and pupils back into the building, he said.
"My understanding is that it was a smoke-removal operation for the fire department," Mould said. "It was like burnt toast."