Gas leak causes Montessori school evacuation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 7, 2007

A broken gas line sent school children and residents out of their classes and homes last week.

Construction workers were digging along the highway in Mt. Laurel

before lunch Tuesday, Jan. 30 when they broke a natural gas line.

The break caused dangerous fumes to be released into the air.

One hundred and sixty Hilltop Montessori students were moved out of the school and to the Cahaba Valley Fire Station, which was far enough for the gas to not be breathed in.

Michelle Scott, Hilltop Montessori headmistress, said she was happy the evacuation went smoothly.

&8220;The fire department told us we had to evacuate and in about 10 minutes we had all the children at the Cahaba Valley fire station,&8221; Scott said. &8220;We&8217;ve only been in the building a few months but the teachers had all been through and practiced our emergency action plan.&8221;

More than 100 residents were also evacuated until the gas cleared.

The leak was temporarily plugged and gas bypassed until permanent repairs could be made.

Officials said once the air was free of the gas there was no further danger for local residents or the school. Homeowners were able to go back to their houses a few hours later.