Gas line break causes partial evacuation at Brown Elementary

By Tony Parra

Kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students had to be evacuated for an hour from portable buildings because of a gas leak noon Tuesday.

Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said no one was hospitalized or injured and the ambulance didn’t have to respond.

Scott Arnold, general manager for Yucca Telecommunications, confirmed a main gas line was hit by MP NexLevel workers who are boring holes as part of the fiber-optic installation project. Arnold said it was due to a mismarked line. The $11.3 million project is intended to bring faster Internet, high-definition television and video on demand services to Portales.

For precautionary measures, police officers and fire department officials had to evacuate children from portable buildings on the west side of the main building and move them into the main building. The evacuation took place at noon and children were able to go back to the portable buildings at 1 p.m. Berry said firefighters checked with gas meters to make sure it was safe to go back.

“What happened was a gas line was hit in the alley between Avenue E and F,” Berry said. “We evacuated the students in the portable buildings.”

Brown Early Childhood Center principal Jackie Burns said about 70 students use the portables and the children who were evacuated were moved to a multipurpose room in the main building. Burns said, if they would have had to evacuate the main building, the students would have been moved to the First Methodist Church.

“We got the call at around 12:30 p.m.,” Jeff Buell, spokesperson for PNM Gas, said. “It was a 2-inch line.”

At 4 p.m., Buell said PNM Gas employees were working to restore gas services to 16 customers by 6 p.m. that same day.