A fire that burned curtains in the Hammond High School auditorium in Columbia forced the evacuation of the school Thursday and an early dismissal, fire and school authorities said. No one was injured. The school was evacuated about 12:30 p.m., according to Patti Caplan, school system spokeswoman. Students were allowed back inside later, but were allowed to leave close to the 2:10 p.m. dismissal time, she said. Battalion chief Eric Proctor said sprinklers contained the fire, which was extinguished by firefighters. Damage was confined to the stage area. He said the state fire marshal is investigating the cause.
-Larry Carson and John-John Williams IV