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Gas leak causes FHS evacuation

Farragut High School was partially evacuated Thursday morning, Sept. 18, when a maintenance worker smelled gas outside the east wing of the school.

Less than two hours after the evacuation began, the “all clear” was given and students returned to the evacuated areas of the building.

Officer Win Ragon of Knox County Sheriff’s Office said no students had complained of headache, nausea or any other symptom related to sickness caused by gas inhalation at the time of the all clear.

FHS principal Michael Reynolds said the leak was located at the base of a plastic gas pipe behind the building.

He added the evacuation was a precautionary measure.

“It was suggested to just shut off the gas at the intake valve, but to err on the side of caution, we [evacuated] and just waited for the professionals to do their job,” he said.

“I can’t say enough about response from the professionals. You might say it is a case of calling in the cavalry, but I would rather do that than take a chance,” Reynolds added.

Once the leak was located local emergency services reacted swiftly.

Ragon said, “Once it was discovered, the maintenance worker who smelled it first called downtown to Central Mainten-ance. They have what they call a First Responder Unit that comes out … they determined it was an actual leak, and they called K-U-B. They came out to find the shut-off. Once they found the shut-off they shut off the gas.

“It was a situation where all responsible parties came together on something that wasn’t a major situation to keep it from becoming a major situation.”

Rural Metro, Knoxville Utilities District, First Utility District and Knox County Sheriff’s Office all sent emergency workers, including some hazardous material teams to effectively secure the situation.

Reynolds said about one quarter of the school’s 1,986 students were affected by the evacuation.

They were taken to the gymnasium and the auditorium, which is part of our evacuation plan anyway,” he added.

KCSO officers secured the entrance to the school, routing incoming students and concerned parents to the junior parking lot until the all clear was given.


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