Students Forced Out Of School By Gas Leak

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KINGSTON - A construction accident caused a gas leak in Luzerne County Monday morning that led to the evacuation of an elementary school and several neighbors on the same block.

Student Joseph Leatt knew something wasn't right during a late morning period at Schuyler Avenue Elementary School in Kingston.

"I was in gym class," he said."I heard the fire drill, and the principal was telling us to get out."

It was no drill.

Kingston's Fire Chief says a PA American Water construction worker using a back hoe, struck a two-inch gas line, half a block away from the school.

"I walked out on the porch and it was like a gusher," said John Hoover, who lives on Schuyler Avenue. "But it wasn`t water. It was dirt flying out of a hole."

Hoover told us he called 911 after seeing proof of the natural gas leak.

"You could smell a strong odor of gas,"  Hoover said, adding he and several neighbors were forced to leave their homes. "They evacuated a school which is a half a block away from the digging.  And that's what my main concern was."

School children took refuge in a nearby supermarket after a short walk from campus.

"I just smelled the gas and i was covering my nose so i would be alright," said Joesph Leatt of his short walk.

A water company spokesperson tells Newswatch 16, the gas line was not properly marked.

A UGI spokesman told us the gas company is doing its own investigation to see if the line was marked, and if it was marked in the right place.

It took two hours for crews to repair the leak, and allow Schuyler Avenue Elementary school kids to get back in class.