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Oconee Fire Department Investigates Smoke at St. Mary's Highland Hills

All 124 residents of the retirement community were evacuated Monday afternoon as a precautionary measure.

There was smoke but no fire on the campus of St. Mary's Highland Hills retirement community Monday afternoon, according to Oconee County Fire and Rescue personnel.

Firefighters were dispatched to the scene around 12:30 p.m. where smoke had reportedly been found on the second floor of the main building.

Station 8 officer Danny Myung said no flames nor charred material were found.  The smoke wasn't heavy enough to warrant ventilation, he added.

Myung said the cause of the smoke was unknown.

"There was someone cooking in their kitchenette that was close, there was some cooking in the kitchen, someone was working on the dryer...but we never found an actual source," he explained.

All 124 residents of the facilities on Jennings Mill Road were safely evacuated.  St. Mary's Hospice House and a Center for Alzheimer's and Dementia Care are also located on the campus.

"The staff here did a great job of evacuating before we even got on scene and afterward we went through every single room twice with different crews just to double check upstairs and downstairs," he said.

Tanya Adcock, director of community, said she was impressed with the response of the firefighters, deputies and National EMS personnel.

"They helped us above and beyond what they're supposed to," she said.

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