ROCKINGHAM — Firefighters freed four children who were briefly stuck in an elevator Tuesday afternoon at Discovery Place Kids.
“One of the guests hit the emergency button in the elevator and emergency procedures were implemented, where the city of Rockingham and the Rockingham Fire Department were called,” Discovery Place spokeswoman Kaitlin Rogers said in a statement.
Rockingham Fire Chief Charles Gardner said he arrived at the museum around 3:10 after the elevator door failed to open.
Gardner said that a cable that releases the doors had “jumped off the track” from the pulley system.
The chief said he used an emergency key that opens the doors slightly.
He said the kids didn’t seem panicked at all and that they were “sittin’ on the floor watching us, waiting for us to get ‘em out.”
Gardner was then was able to reach in and pull down a release device which opened the door, allowing the children to continue exploring the museum.
“They walked out and went to playing,” Gardner said with a chuckle. “It took longer to get over there than it did to get them out.”
Rogers said the elevator was safely evacuated and the children were reunited with their group.
“Discovery Place, Inc. takes a priority in ensuring the safety of our guests, so the elevator is out of operation until further notice while the city looks into the problem,” Rogers said. “This is the first time a guest has been stuck in the elevator at Discovery Place Kids-Rockingham.”
Doug Lucas, area supervisor the N.C. Department of Labor’s Elevator and Amusement Device Bureau, said the elevator was last inspected on April 23.
“It was safe and everything was good at that time,” he said.
Lucas, who oversees seven inspectors in 21 counties, said the only issues mentioned on the inspection report were that the emergency phone needed to be restored and that all emergency keys should be on the premises at all times.
He said inspection cards are posted inside every elevator with the signature of the inspector, adding that there are no expiration dates, “but we do get around annually.”
Lucas said all elevators have to meet the codes in place during the time they were installed. The one inside Discovery Place Kids was installed Nov. 30, 2012.
“It’s like a car,” he said. “Sometimes elevators break down.”
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675.