Middle school evacuation standard precaution
Washington Middle School was evacuated shortly before 3:30 p.m. Friday as a standard precaution after a gas smell was detected in the cafeteria and kitchen of the school.
Principal Curt Mayer said today that the gas smell was caused when a down draft blew out a pilot light on a stove in the kitchen. He said that the evacuation is standard procedure for such a situation. The students were asked to leave the building for about 20 minutes while workers from Alliant Energy and the Washington Fire Department determined the cause of the smell. The Washington Police Department managed traffic around the school.
“Everyone did very well,” Mayer said. “We had really good communications with the (Washington County Communications) center and among everyone involved.”
As the school day ended, the Washington Fire Department gave the ‘all clear’ signal and students were allowed back into the building to collect their items from their lockers and leave the building. Mayer said that a repairman arrived on scene later that day and “the issue was resolved.”
Mayer said that the school had followed its existing safety protocol in evacuating the students to the rear parking lot while the cause of the problem was determined. He said that if it was determined students would have been outside the school for a longer period, or if the incident had happened during inclement weather, they may have been evacuated to an alternate site such as Lincoln Elementary School.
The schools superintendent and the transportation director, as well as the communications center and the Washington Police Department were all part of the communication chain, Mayer said.