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Three Oaks Elementary School in Cary evacuated after natural gas leak

Leak related to loose pipe, superintendent says

CARY – Firefighters arrived about 9 a.m. Monday at Three Oaks Elementary School after a staff member noticed an odor in the gymnasium.

Cary School District 26 officials soon learned it was a slight natural gas leak, District 26 Superintendent Brian Coleman said. Students and staff evacuated the school and moved next door to the Cary Area Public Library.

“There was a small leak in the boiler room,” Coleman said. “It was a pipe that needed to be tightened down more, that was connected to the regulator.”

Coleman said the boilers at Three Oaks were replaced over the summer.

Apparently, the installation was not fully completed.

“It was a pipe that either was tightened the wrong way or not enough,” Coleman said, adding that the pipe was tightened and inspection of all joints in the mechanical room will be done.

Students and staff were out of the building for about 30 minutes and returned to regular school activities for the rest of the day.

Coleman said that with the cold weather all weekend, the heating system probably was on the entire time, and the small leak was exposed and ultimately noticed Monday morning when staff entered the gymnasium, which is next to the mechanical room.

Situations such as these are the reason schools practice emergency drills.

“We really appreciate the work of staff and students, who did a great job getting out of the building in a timely manner,” Coleman said. “Everything worked the way it’s supposed to work.”

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