People were evacuated from their homes after a plumber broke a gas line while working on a sewer pipe in Bellingham on Wednesday morning, Oct. 14, according to the Bellingham Fire Department.
The gas line broke in front of a home at 2118 H St., about two blocks from Whatcom Middle School, around 11 a.m., said Bellingham Assistant Fire Chief Bill Hewett.
Crews with Cascade Natural Gas stopped the leak about 30 minutes after it was first reported. A woman was inside the house where the gas leak started, Hewett said. No injuries were reported.
Students and staff at the middle school were temporarily instructed to shelter in place, and some neighboring residents were evacuated while hazardous materials teams checked their houses for natural gas odors. The residents were allowed to return after about an hour.
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When asked to shelter in place, a school still operates normally but everyone is kept inside the building, said Jeffrey Coulter, the middle school’s principal.
“The biggest thing we did was bring the sixth graders in off the playground and treated it like it was an indoor recess,” Coulter said. “We provided them information that there was an event by the fire department and there was no fire and everybody was safe. It was very low key.”
The shelter request was lifted 15 minutes after it started, and the school alerted parents about what happened.
Bellingham Public Works crews found no contamination in the sewer system, Hewett said. Firefighters left the neighborhood around noon, and Cascade Natural Gas crews stayed to repair the gas line.
“We took a lot of precaution for what ended up being a minor event,” Hewett said.
Samantha Wohlfeil contributed to this report. Reach her at 360-715-2274. Reach Wilson Criscione at 360-756-2803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.