A construction crew is believed to have broken a gas line on the Germantown campus of Montgomery College Monday morning filling the area with the odor of natural gas and forcing the evacuation and closure of the campus. The gas leak is now under control, but the gas has been turned off to much of the campus. The evacuation order has been lifted, but the campus remained closed until 5:00 pm.
At about 2:00 pm on Monday, Montgomery College announced that the classes would resume at 5:00 pm on the Germantown campus, however, operations offices, such as financial aid or the registrar’s office would remain closed for the rest of Monday. Classes would be open and begin on schedule on Tuesday in Germantown.
Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service senior spokesman Pete Piringer told said that MCFRS received the call at about 9:45 am on Monday morning reporting that there was a major gas leak in front of the science building on the campus. “Firefighters discovered a significant leak. We initially thought it was a three-inch pipe, but we discovered it was a four-inch high-pressure gas line. The crew that arrived first called for reinforcements including the Haz-Mat crew. We had about 65 firefighters on the scene.”
The evacuation of the campus was orderly, and no injuries were reported, but people could be seen covering their faces with scarves or coats in an attempt to offset the smell of natural gas.
The odor of gas was strong throughout the campus, and as a result, all eight buildings on campus were evacuated, including the child care center, and the campus was closed. Montgomery County Police closed down Observation Drive — which runs through the campus — to incoming traffic at Germantown Road and Observation Drive circle where it intersects with Goldenrod Lane near Holy Cross Germantown Hospital.
Piringer said the Washington Gas was called to help control the leak and firefighters worked to control the heating and ventilation systems of the buildings on campus to limit the intake of the natural gas into the buildings.
The children at the Center for Early Education, a childcare facility located on campus were moved to an ambulance bus to shelter the children to keep them warm and safe, as they awaited the parents. Police met parents at the Observation Drive Circle near the east entrance to campus and escorted by police to pick up children from the MCFRS ambulance bus. There were no injuries, and the students were in no danger.
Washington Gas was able to reduce the pressure and shut off the flow of gas to the pipe, and to the many of the buildings on campus. “Shortly after 11:00 am the gas company was able to reduce the pressure and get the pipe shut off, however, that means that some of the buildings are not going to have gas utility,” said Piringer, earlier this morning.
Top: Firefighters could be seen near in the construction site at Montgomery College – Germantown Campus as Washington Gas workers attempted to shut down the broken four-inch high-pressure natural gas pipeline which forced the evacuation of the campus on Monday morning.
Next: MCPD blocked Observation Drive to incoming traffic as the Germantown campus of Montgomery College was evacuated a due to a gas leak on Monday morning.
Next: Children at the Center for Early Education on the Montgomery College campus being loaded onto the MCFRS Medical Ambulance Bus to take shelter and warmth as they waited to be reunited with their parents.
Next: The scene construction zone where the four-inch pipe was broken creating the gas leak requiring the Germantown campus of Montgomery College to be evacuated and closed on Monday morning. Photo courtesy MCFRS.
Next: The gas leak generated a large response from MCFRS including the Hazardous Materials unit, while Montgomery County Police closed the campus and coordinated reuniting parents and children from the Center for Early Education on the college campus.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.