School officials describe South Hill evaucation | News
It was a busy afternoon for a South Hill neighborhood when crews digging up 29th Avenue ruptured a natural gas pipe prompting the evacuation of nearby homes, schools, businesses and apartments.
It was only the third day of school at the Southside Christian Center and staff hadn’t had a chance yet to do an official evacuation drill with their students.
Principal Heide Bauer explained they evacuated about 130 students from grades K-8 after a construction worker ran into their school and told a teacher that he “hit a mainline, we need to evacuate immediately.”
“I got on the PA system and told all our teachers that we need to evacuate,” Bauer said. “Then you could hear the sound and smell. We moved the kids from here to Sacajawea’s field just to get away from the smell.”
The school’s evacuation took less than five minutes which is what they expected from previous drills.
“Once the kids knew it was for real, they really took it seriously,” Bauer.
The leak was plugged later that afternoon allowing for residents of nearby homes to return home. By 3:45 p.m. fire crews were all packed up, but some Avista workers remained cleaning up the mess. Those crews peered down into the hole where the ruptured pipe lies still exposed.
For the past month, crews have been working on the rehabilitation of the roadway. Completion of the first phase of construction has been delayed while crews work on relocating natural gas and water pipes.
Construction on that stretch of road is expected to be completed by the end of September. City officials do not expect this incident to delay that deadline further.