- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The owner of child care facility in Jacksonville, Fla., is defending her decision to fire a teacher after the instructor left her classroom of small children to extinguish a kitchen fire.

Michelle Hammack was fired last week from the Little Temples Child Care Center in the Jacksonville neighborhood of Arlington after she took quick action to evacuate her students and extinguish a fire.

“I just leaned over and peeked around and there was a fire in the oven, and I ran in there and opened it to try to put it out, and the fire alarm started going off,” she told WTEV 47.

The teacher said she then rushed back to her classroom and woke up her napping students and took them outside. She went back for a second check to make sure no other children were inside.

“When I got to the third classroom by the kitchen, I could see that it was just a contained fire in the oven,” she told the TV station, adding that she put the fire out before the fire trucks arrived.

The owner of the child care facility, Olga Rozhaov, fired Ms. Hammack almost immediately.

“I fired her only because she left her room,” she told WTEV 47. “It’s not acceptable, and if anybody else does the same thing, I will fire again. I will fire them. No question.”

“Even though children are sleeping, the teachers are supposed to be there,” she added.

The local Department of Children and Families has opened an investigation into the incident.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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