Officials evacuate schools in Oslo

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Schools all over Oslo were under evacuation orders on Thursday, after education officials worried that some fire extinguishers installed at the schools could explode. Many schools were told to close immediately, while some classes were simply moved outdoors.

“We’ve gone out in the fine weather and will spend the rest of the day outside,” the principal of one local school told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). She was referring to the blue skies and sunshine that literally provided a bright spot in the otherwise disruptive evacuation order.

School officials were told Thursday morning that all rooms with fire extinguishers that contain carbon dioxide should be evacuated immediately pending visits from inspectors. One principal said the fire extinguishers had been installed at the schools several years ago, and that it was unclear what set off the sudden alarm.

“There apparently is some explosion danger,” she said. NRK reported that all schools in Oslo were either being closed or at least partially evacuated.

At noon came an announcement from the city that all junior high- and high schools (videregåendeskole) plus all adult education sites were ordered to close immediately, and students sent home.

Elementary schools were ordered to evacuate students to the school yards and keep them there until parents could come and fetch them. Older students in grades 5-7 were to be kept in the school yards until 1pm, at which point they could be sent home on their own.

All school meetings and events, including evening classes at the schools, were to be cancelled.

There was no word of any accidents by midday. Officials at the City of Oslo’s department of education (Utdanningsetaten) reported that they had been informed by the city agency in charge of school buildings (Undervisningsbygg) that a production error in the fire extinguishers’ vents could lead to an explosion if touched.

City officials also sent out a warning that fire extinguishers must not be handled by anyone other than inspectors from Undervisningsbygg.

There was no immediate word on when teachers and students could return to the classroom.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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