Rowley residents roused early Thursday by smoking heater

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Perry Volunteer Fire Department First Assistant Chief Brian Eiteman, right, explains to about a dozen residents of the Rowley Masonic Community assisted-living wing the cause that tripped the fire alarm about 2:15 a.m. Thursday.

Residents of the Rowley Masonic Community were roused early Thursday when a hallway heater in the old wing overheated and tripped the fire alarm.

Officers of the Perry Police Department and firefighters with the Perry Volunteer Fire Department responded to the alarm, reported at 2:21 a.m.

Smoke was detected in the hallway between the independent-living wing in the southwest portion of the facility’s campus and the vacant building that formerly housed residents.

“The pulley on a hallway heater seized,” said Perry Volunteer Fire Department First Assistant Chief Brian Eiteman, “and the motor continued to run and heated the pulley belt.”

The fire was promptly extinguished. There were no injuries.

Sounding something like 17-year cicadas at their loudest, the alarm system operated effectively, and about a dozen independent-living residents prepared to evacuate and gathered in the commons area in their dressing gowns. Eiteman explained to the residents the cause of the alarm and assured them they could safely return to their quarters.

The firefighters returned to the fire station about 3:30 a.m.

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