Photo: Andrew Goff.

A “smoke test” in Old Town Eureka caused a brief emergency response from Humboldt Bay Fire this morning, after smoke alarms started going off in the Vance Hotel at Second and G Streets.

The smoke was first spotted in a second-floor bathroom, and momentarily prompted an evacuation of the building.

Humboldt Bay Fire sent numerous trucks and engines to the site of the supposed fire, and momentarily called for neighboring fire agencies to provide coverage for Eureka while local firefighters prepared for attack. Things got more serious when a firefighter spotted smoke arising from the vents not only of the Vance, but several neighboring structures as well.

Smoke coming up from the sewer. Photo: Shane Mizer.

However, a different firefighter quickly determined that someone was conducting a “smoke test” in the sewers, which ended up with smoke infiltrating buildings all around Old Town.

A city public works employee confirmed, moments ago, that city government itself was in charge of the test. Humboldt Bay Fire Battalion Chief Kent Hulbert said, at the scene, that the city’s contractors used “theatrical smoke” in the test, which ended up spreading throughout the area, penetrating buildings blocks away.

“We experience this every so often when they do this testing,” Battalion Chief Bill Reynolds told the Outpost.

Most of the fire companies were put back into rotation some ten minutes after the call went out. Several remain in Old Town, dealing with fire alarms in buildings around the neighborhood.

Photo: Andrew Goff.