Fire crews responded to a call from Penticton Secondary School, where a halogen light in the common area burst into flames shortly after 9 a.m. Friday.
No one was hurt and damage was minimal.
A faulty halogen light on the high ceiling of the common area burned for several minutes.
The fire department was immediately phoned at 9:14 a.m. By the time they had arrived, vice-principal Jeff Guy had used a fire extinguisher to combat the flames.
Principal Alan Stel said the entire school was evacuated and everyone was out of the building within four minutes. Due to the cold weather, staff and students took refuge in nearby KVR Middle School and the Shatford Centre as everyone vacated the school without jackets.
Classes resumed within the hour, and the common area was reopened by noon, after it was cleaned.
The faulty light was removed and the power disconnected from the remaining halogen lights in that area. An electrical inspection will be conducted.
Stel said six fire drills are conducted each year at the high school and students calmly left the building Friday. He praised the quick response by the Penticton Fire Department, the school board's on-site maintenance crew, and the school's vice-principals and all other staff members.
"Nobody panicked. We've all been trained for these kind of emergencies, which you hope never happen, and in my 22 years (of teaching), this is the first legitimate fire I've ever had to contend with," Stel said.
Friday was the final day of regular instruction in the first semester. Exams begin Monday.