Pierson Evacuated After Strange Odor Detected

Electrical service problem also caused lights to flicker for 337 customers in the area.

     Pierson Middle-High School in Sag Harbor was evacuated on Monday afternoon after mechanical systems let off a strange odor and lights flickered, according to Jeff Nichols, the principal. The staff tripped the fire alarm to summon Sag Harbor Fire Department volunteers to check the odor, he said.

     No level of carbon monoxide was detected and no one was in danger, Mr. Nichols said. The evacuation was precautionary, but after-school activities were canceled, he added.

     According to a PSEG Long Island spokeswoman, Elizabeth Flagler, 337 customers, including the school, were affected for 41 minutes after "a tap burned open" on a transformer supplying the area at 2:02 p.m. She said it caused lights to flicker in the area. The problem was resolved by 2:43 p.m., she said.

     Mr. Nichols said he was told the electrical problem left insufficient power for the HVAC system, fuel pumps, and air-circulation system, causing them to work harder and create what he described as a "smoky smell."

     "We set it off ourselves because we smelled it," Mr. Nichols said of the automatic fire alarm that the Fire Department received around 2 p.m. Carl Bonuso, the interim district superintendent, sent out an email alert to parents.

     Students and staff had to stay out of the building for about an hour, though many students boarded a school bus or got picked up from the campus at the normal dismissal time of 2:25 p.m., Mr. Nichols said. Others were allowed back in to retrieve their belongings at around 3 p.m.

     Electricians are still working to ensure that the systems were not damaged and are running smoothly, he said. "As of now, the expectation is we will open tomorrow as usual."