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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Missouri S&T campus evacuated due to gas leak

  • All buildings on the main campus of Missouri University of Science and Technology campus were evacuated Wednesday morning because of a gas-line break near Straumanis-James Hall (Materials Research Center) behind St. Patrick's Catholic Church off St. Patrick's Lane.
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  • All buildings on the main campus of Missouri University of Science and Technology campus were evacuated Wednesday morning because of a gas-line break near Straumanis-James Hall (Materials Research Center) behind St. Patrick's Catholic Church off St. Patrick's Lane.
    According to City of Rolla Fire and Rescue Chief Robert Williams, a 2-inch gas line ruptured a little after 10 a.m.
    "The construction crew hit it when they were doing some grading near Straumanis," explained Williams. "The worker knew what happened and called as soon as he broke it."
    No injuries were reported.
    Karen Giovanoni was working in Straumanis-James Hall when she heard a hissing sound.
    "It was loud. You could hear it," she said. "We went to investigate outside as to what the noise was. As soon as we smelled it, we knew right away what that was. You could see the line sticking up out of the ground."
    Dan Stortz was working with Giovanoni.
    "We were a little scared once we knew what it was," he said.
    The two exited through a door on the opposite side of the building. Within 10 minutes they heard sirens and a fire truck was on the scene.
    Not too long after the arrival of the City of Rolla Fire and Rescue, an official from Ameren was on the scene to clamp off the leaking gas line.
    The campus was without Internet service because power was being shut off at a number of campus buildings. These included the Computer Science Building, which houses the campus's web servers.
    Firefighters were going through buildings measuring gas levels and leaving entrance doors open.
    At 10:12 a.m. a campus-wide emergency-notification-system text was sent out to faculty, staff and students.
    Initially occupants in the Engineering Research Lab, Straumanis-James Hall, the Engineering Management Building, McNutt Hall, the Computer Science Building, the Humanities-Social Sciences Building and Wilson Library were evacuated and advised to meet in the Havener Center.
    Crowds outside of Emerson Electrical Company Hall gathered, talked and tried to stay warm as they waited for more news.
    Among them was senior Devin DuMont. He was in Electrical Engineering Room 271 when a firefighter came in and told everyone to evacuate the building.
    "He told us to evacuate the building due to a gas leak," DuMont explained.
    DuMont told the Daily News that it was a calm and orderly exit for everyone. He added  that inside he was getting ready for an exam for Thursday.
    "We will see if that exam is still on tomorrow (Thursday). My bet is yes," he said with a smile.
    At 10:37 a.m. faculty, staff and students received another campus-wide alert informing them that a second gas leak had been suspected near Fulton Hall and an evacuation of the entire main campus was issued.
    Page 2 of 2 - This time students and faculty were directed to go the Gale-Bullman Multi-Purpose Building at 10th Street and U.S. Highway 63 until further notice.
    However, it was later determined that there was no second gas leak. Residual odor from the Straumanis-James Hall gas leak had traveled to the Fulton Hall area.
    The Rolla Police Department advised people to avoid the area of 10th Street and U.S. Highway as evacuations were being made. As well people who were not on campus were advised not to come to campus until an "all-clear" was issued.
    In front of Wilson Library, long lines of students filed down the campus sidewalks in all directions.
    James Zandstra, a mechanical engineering student from St. Charles, was headed to his house, which he said was closer than Gale-Bullman.
    At Gale-Bullman a number of faculty, staff and students in the hallways and in the bleachers of the basketball gym were checking their cellphones to see if there were  any updates on the situation.
    Others studied. One student who was pulled out of his chemistry lecture stated that the events of the morning were unfortunate because for every hour of class that is missed needs to be made up somewhere else.
    "So, I wish I was still in class," he said with his textbook on his lap.
    At 11:50 a.m., campus officials notified faculty, staff and students that it was safe to return to campus. Straumanis-James Hall remained closed.
    At 12:10 p.m., officials gave the all clear to return to Straumanis-James Hall.
    At 2:10 p.m. a gas odor was reported near Fulton Hall and the south side of Toomey Hall. The City of Rolla Fire and Rescue was contacted and investigated, but no gas line leak was found. The odor may have been a residual odor from the earlier gas line break at Straumanis-James Hall.
    Nearby St. Patrick’s School was not considered to be in the danger zone and was not evacuated.

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