The Philomath News received incorrect information about the evacuation site for the children and the following story has been revised. — Editor
A ruptured gas line at the College United Methodist Church on Monday afternoon led to the evacuation of young children, Philomath Fire & Rescue reported.
The fire department, which is located in the same block as the church and Philomath Museum, responded to the incident at 2:10 p.m. Oct. 10. The children were safely moved to the fire station.
“Pioneer Telephone was digging for their fiber cable on the northwest side of the property when the machinery accidentally cut the gas line to the church,” Deputy Fire Chief Rich Saalsaa said. “There were children playing in the school yard for Head Start, as well as the Montessori school, and were safely evacuated.”
No other personnel were inside the church or school grounds. Saalsaa said the schoolchildren were expected to return to classes on Tuesday.
“Fire personnel established a perimeter around the leak to the extent that the gas concentration set off the alarms on a gas monitor,” Saalsaa said. “There was a fresh northwest wind today which helped to disburse the gas.”
Northwest Natural arrived on the scene and checked the area to ensure no lingering gas was present inside the school and church while cutting off the gas supply, Saalsaa said. The gas shutoff also impacted the museum and a nearby residence and Northwest Natural also performed safety checks at those locations.
Philomath Fire & Rescue responded with an engine company and three personnel, and two command officers with Fire Chief Chancy Ferguson heading up the evacuation of the children and Saalsaa serving in the role of incident commander.
North 12th Street at Main Street and College Street at North 13th Street were closed for a little over an hour during the operation.
In addition to Northwest Natural, the Philomath Police Department and Philomath Public Works assisted at the scene.