No students or faculty were hurt. Students have since returned to class.
"We didn't find any active fire," said David Randle, assistant chief for the Anniston Fire Department, who was at the school. "A motor burned up in an air conditioner and created lots of smoke."
Joan Frazier, superintendent of the Anniston school system, said the fire occurred in what she called the “related arts hallway” of the school.
"Our alarms are highly sensitive and went off as soon as they detected smoke," Frazier said. "The first responders arrived quickly."
Randle said his department got to the school at about 9 a.m. and remained for about 47 minutes. Two fire pumper trucks and one rescue vehicle were sent to the school within three minutes.
While firefighters checked inside the school, faculty separated students into several groups on the outskirts of the campus as a safety precaution.
Frazier said the students and faculty did an excellent job evacuating the school, even though there were 150 more children there than the usual 475.
"We had all our system's fifth graders here touring, receiving orientation to become sixth graders," Frazier said. "After the evacuation, I sent the fifth graders on buses back to their schools ... their tour will now need to be rescheduled."
Lynwood Hawkins, principal of Anniston Middle, said his students and faculty did what they were trained to do and evacuated in just a few minutes.
"We are required to do drills monthly ... our faculty and students are well-trained," Hawkins said. "I'm real proud of them."
Staff Writer Eddie Burkhalter contributed reporting.