By Robin Culverwell

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The 700 students who attend Ben Franklin High School were dismissed early after a fire inside the school around lunchtime Wednesday.

Chopper 3 was over the scene of 550 N. Broad Street.

Around noontime the fire alarm sounded and students were evacuated onto North Broad Street, just north of Spring Garden Street.

Flames were reported in a boys’ changing area near the lower level gym and the resulting smoke and smell of burning plastic permeated the building.

“Building was evacuated, no one was injured, and we were [dismissed and] allowed to send them home early due to the smoke in the building and the water on the lower level,” Principal Gregory Hailey said.

Hailey says they can do without that area if need be.

“Right now it’s not really being used other than for gym, so we have a main gymnasium we can divert the kids to for their physical education programs,” the principal said.

School officials expect to have Ben Franklin High aired out and the water cleaned up in time for classes to resume first thing Thursday morning.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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