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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | VENTURA

30 City Hall Workers Flee Elevator Fire

July 11, 1998|HOLLY J. WOLCOTT

About 30 employees working at Ventura City Hall on Friday afternoon evacuated the three-story building when a small fire erupted inside an elevator and sent foul-smelling fumes into several offices.

The voluntary evacuations occurred about 2:15 p.m. on the first and second floors after an employee smelled a strong odor inside the city manager's second-floor office and then a smoke alarm sounded, fire officials said.

"I originally called our police and fire dispatch for a nonemergency but as I was on the phone, the smell was getting stronger, and then there was smoke," said Anne Simmons, an administrative secretary for the city manager.

The fire occurred inside a freight elevator that runs from a basement print shop to the top floor of the building at 501 Poli St. The elevator is on the building's east end near the city manager's officer, Simmons said.

A team of 12 firefighters pried open the elevator doors and doused the flames within 10 minutes. The fire was caused by oil-covered rags that came into contact with an overheated elevator motor, said Simmons' husband, Ventura Fire Capt. Barry Simmons.

Damage was limited to the elevator's motor, Capt. Simmons said. Employees returned inside about 2:30 p.m. At the time of the incident, the city manager was out of the building.

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