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Rancho High evacuated after drapes catch fire

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Updated: 4/08 10:01 pm

LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- Lights on stages can get very hot - hot enough to start a fire.

That's what happened at Rancho High School Monday morning.

Drama teacher Kelly Miller had already taught classes in there earlier when one of her advanced acting students noticed the smoke, so she checked it out.

"And at that point the smoke heavily engulfed me and I just screamed for my students to run out of our fire exit and get out of the classroom, pulled my cell phone and called 911 as well as press the emergency button we have in the classroom," Miller said.

Thanks to quick action by firefighters responding to a fire in the Rancho High School Theater, no one was injured. The fire department says a hot stage light came in contact with a drape.

"It looked like maybe one of the lights was tilted too much in the drape, when it was drawn back was touching that light fixture," said Tim Symanski of Las Vegas Fire & Rescue.

"It was just an issue of lights that are too hot over an extended period of time, even 45 minutes," Miller said.

Firefighters say it was caught in the knick of time, as the drapes were smoldering and hadn't spread flames. Several fire extinguishers were used, and as the fire was being snuffed, the fire alarm was pulled.

Principal James Kuzma says all the practiced fire drills helped the real thing work just handsomely as 3,100 students were sent outside.

"Every school we have an evacuation plan that's already in place. We have practiced it hundreds of times," Kuzma said.

When it was deemed safe to return, Miller breathed a sigh of relief for her students.

"This is my home. This is my life's career. I work here, so safety is a major concern of mine. I'm always reminding the kids -- safety first, safety first," Miller said.

Altogether there was about $100,000 damage, but school leaders say they'll clean up, replace these drapes and get ready for their Spring production.

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