Gas leak forces closure of Fruitvale school

Students at Fruitvale Elementary School got an unexpected day off Thursday due to a gas leak.

A natural gas leak forced the sudden closure of Fruitvale Elementary School early Thursday morning.

A natural gas leak forced the sudden closure of Fruitvale Elementary School early Thursday morning.

Students at Fruitvale Elementary School got an unexpected day off Thursday due to a gas leak.

Bill Ford, superintendent for School District 20, confirmed the school was closed for the day but expects it to reopen today (Friday).

“Over the last two weeks, there has been an intermittent occasional wafting of natural gas odor in the school,” explained Ford in an email reply.

“Our maintenance department was contacted and the problem was with a Fortis piece of equipment (a regulator). Fortis ordered a new regulator.

“(Thursday) the smell was particularly heavy and noxious. We decided to not have students or staff in the building, and closed the school for the day. Fortis has indicated to me that the new regulator has arrived and they will be installing it (Thursday).”

The smell was detected prior to the start of classes and students were sent home. Students bused in were returned home and families contacted. One parent, whose child walks to school, contacted the Trail Times to say their child returned home without any notification until a couple of hours later.

“We have a process for dealing with these kinds of situations,” said Ford. “Unfortunately, it appears that the process didn’t occur without some challenges (Thursday) morning.”

He added the principal and the staff worked to ensure that all families had been contacted and that all students are safe.

“As a district, we will be debriefing the incident and making changes as deemed necessary.”