Three Pinkerton Academy buildings were evacuated last week while the Derry Fire Department dealt with a gas leak.
Chip Underhill, Pinkerton’s executive director of public relations, wrote in a press release that an “apparent natural gas leak” was detected at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, at the front of the Pinkerton Building. The Pinkerton Building and the nearby Shepard Building and Saltmarsh Library were evacuated, he said. The other buildings on campus remained in operation.
The Derry Fire Department responded and examined the source of the leak, Underhill said. The leak was from an external pipe and gas meter at the front of the building, and was attributed to a block of ice falling from the roof of the Pinkerton Building and striking the gas meter. This created an odor that was no longer present when the Fire Department arrived, according to Jack Webb, Derry Fire battalion chief.
At 2:20 p.m., students were admitted back into the buildings and dismissed for the day.
Underhill said parents were notified by the emergency telephone system. Liberty Utilities has replaced the gas meter, he said.
Webb wrote in a press release that the Derry Fire Department responded after Pinkerton staff called 9-1-1 when the ice fell off the bell tower and hit the meter. He said staff members smelled gas and instituted their emergency plan. Webb said Engines 1 and 4, Medic 4, Truck 4 and Car 1 responded.
Webb wrote that the school did “a superb job” evacuating students and relocating buses. He noted that “At no time were any students or staff at risk.”
The buildings were able to reopen in 20 minutes, Webb said.
Webb noted that the incident occurred when several of the responding Derry apparatus were staffed by recall personnel. At the time of the gas leak, Derry Car 1 and Engine 1 had just cleared a serious head-on collision on Bypass 28 near Whispering Pines Trailer Park. Derry Medic 1, Medic 2 and Engine 3 were committed to transporting patients.