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Hamilton Elementary Evacuated Briefly Wednesday After Gas Smell

Because temperatures were in the teens, the children boarded buses and waited in the NKHS lot until the all clear.

Hamilton Elementary School
Hamilton Elementary School

When employees at Hamilton Elementary School smelled gas in the kitchen Wednesday, it prompted what turned out to be an evacuation drill in tough circumstances – frigid cold temperatures.

The gas smell ended up not tied to a leak. Rather it may have been a case of gas fumes piped outside get sucked back into the building, Principal Morag Cronkite said Thursday.

Before they learned there were no leaks, however, school students and staff needed to evacuate the building. With temperatures in the teens, it required more than the usual approach, Cronkite said.

Buses were notified at the same time as the evacuation was called and teachers told students to take their coats, hats, gloves and scarves before exiting the building.

“It was of course very concerning because it was so frigid,” Cronkite said. “Teachers were sharing their scarves for those kids who didn’t have hats.”

For an evacuation, students and staff must leave the school premises. In this case, buses picked them up and took them to the high school, their evacuation spot. But the evacuation was over before all the children had even been picked up by buses, Cronkite said.

“Our school was completely prepared with what to do,” she said, noting the two fall evacuation drills mandated by the state had helped to prepare them.

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