Crews from the Parksville Fire Department check Ballenas Secondary School to make sure it’s safe following a gas leak that happened when work crews hit a gas line Friday morning. — Michael Briones photo

Gas leak keeps Parksville high school students out of class

Workers reportedly hit gas line near Ballenas Secondary

Ballenas Secondary students spent a portion of their morning out of class due to a gas leak that happened when work crews hit a gas line at approximately 8 a.m. on Friday.

School District superintendent Keven Elder said it was fortunate the incident happened before school started. The school’s emergency protocol was applied.

“There were staff in the building and evacuation procedure was put into place,” said Elder. “As students arrived they were directed to the upper field at the back of the school. It’s a beautiful, sunny day and they’re not unhappy.”

The roads were initially blocked as the Parksville Fire Department, along with Fortis and crews from a contracting company, repaired the damage.

Rooms inside the building were checked and to air out any gas, fans were placed inside the building with doors and windows opened.

Elder said there were no concerns of fire breaking out nearby.

“It was mostly the health effects of the gas and the smell,” said Elder.

It took close to two hours before the building was deemed safe for students and staff to enter the building.

Elder said the challenging part for staff and student is the scent of gas that may be hanging around inside.

“They may clear the building for re-entry and there is no gas but there may be a lingering smell,” said Elder. “We want to make sure there’s as little smell as possible because it may be disconcerting to people.”

Elder commended principal Rudy Terpstra and staff for the way they executed the school’s evacuation procedures.

“It was activated without any real problems,” said Elder.

Terpstra said they do 10 practices each school year that include six fire evacuations, lockdown situations, earthquakes and other emergency procedures.

“Pretty much every month we do a drill,” said Terpstra. “So they came in handy today.”

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