Students Back In School Day After Gas Leak

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Students were back in class in Gravette Wednesday, one day after a gas leak forced the evacuation of 1,275 student from three schools, said Superintendent Richard Page.

Gravette Upper Elementary, Glenn Duffy Elementary and Gravette Middle School were evacuated around 11 a.m Tuesday., officials said.

A fitting broke on a high-pressure gas line at a SourceGas Arkansas substation near the Gravette school campuses, forcing the students to evacuate, said Rich Davis of SourceGas.

Crews were conducting routine maintenance in the area when the incident occurred around 10:30 a.m.

“When our crews were conducting the excavation, a valve fitting on this high pressure gas line cracked, which cause the release of gas,” Davis said.

As a safety measure, the Upper Elementary students were evacuated to the Gravette Civic Center. Duffy Elementary and Middle School students were sent to the high school.

Once at a safe location, students were given lunch. By mid-afternoon, parents and family members were picking up children at the Civic Center or high school.

“I didn’t understand it that much because my daughter-in-law teaches at the school and she called me and told me there was a leak, could I come and pick them up,” said Shirley Wallace, a grandmother.

Parents said they were happy to know their children were safe and able to get home.

“It was all in orderly fashion,” said Neka Lundqiest, a parent.

The incident occurred within 300 feet of the schools, which is why officials evacuated the facilities, Davis said.

“We never want this to occur but when an incident like this does occur we feel confident that we can respond in a timely manner. We can work with our local officials and fix whatever is broken,” Davis said.

Davis said the gas leak has been repaired. Crews conducted a walk-through at the schools Tuesday at about 6:30 p.m. to be sure the facilities were safe, Page said.

Davis said the humidity was a challenge during the repair process, adding that officials are not sure how much gas was leaked.