The Times West Virginian

Local News

March 13, 2014

‘Pinhole-size’ gas leak at Barrackville school

Officials will continue to monitor the pipes

FAIRMONT — Barrackville Elementary/Middle School had a gas leak scare Wednesday morning.

Marion County 911 says the school contacted it around 9:40 a.m. before notifying the gas company and the Barrackville Volunteer Fire Department.

According to Marion County 911 officials, school staff members noticed a gas odor on multiple floors within the building. The Barrackville Volunteer Fire Department responded to the call.

“(When the Barrackville VFD) arrived on scene, the gas monitors did not detect gas,” Barrackville VFD Chief Mike Bland said. “There was a faint smell, but we were not sure what it was.”

Dominion-Hope representatives arrived at the school and assisted with the search for the cause of the gas smell, Marion County Schools Superintendent Gary Price said.

According to Price, the source of the leak was discovered and sealed.

“One the representative from the gas company and a plumber found a pinhole-sized leak in the school basement,” Price said. “They felt it was negligible, but we felt the need to fix it now.”

When fire officials arrived on scene, the school was in the process of evacuating students to local churches. Almost 350 students were evacuated from the school.

“The transportation department took students home from the churches,” Price said.

“The board of education has a book of protocols for every situation imaginable,” Bland said. “We could not have (evacuated the school) better if we had been practicing it for a month.”

“It is a very rare thing,” Price said. “If the problem continues, we will take another look.”

Officials will continue to monitor the pipes before school Thursday morning, Bland said.

The Marion County Homeland Security and Emergency Management office provided additional gas monitors to help confirm whether or not a dangerous level of gas was in the building.

Price said he anticipates the school operating normal hours Thursday, provided the weather is cooperative.

Email Richard Babich at rbabich@timeswv.com or Follow him on Twitter @rbabichTWV.

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