Gas Leak Forces Personal Care Home Residents Out

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MOUNT CARMEL TOWNSHIP -- Dozens of residents were forced out of an assisted living facility in Northumberland County by a gas leak Tuesday morning.

All 71 residents at Serenity Gardens were forced out and taken to a nearby church. That's after about 2,000 pounds of propane leaked into the air at the personal care facility.

It happened around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.

"The girls came around and said there had been a gas leak somewhere and we had to evacuate the whole building," said resident Richard Krieger.

"In my 32 years, we've only had one other property we've had to evacuate and that's because of an ice storm," said Lisa Sikes.

Sikes is the regional director for Serenity Gardens and four other assisted living facilities. She tells Newswatch 16 the place is getting a new roof. A contractor running a forklift caused a propane leak when he ran over one of the main lines coming from the tank.

To keep the residents safe, they were taken to nearby Holy Angels Church in Kulpmont.

The community pulled together to help. Mount Carmel Area School District sent buses over to transport residents. Area Services out of Shamokin brought ambulances for the residents in wheelchairs and then set up their oxygen tanks.

Employees came in on their days off.

"Removing 71 people isn't easy but they had an emergency plan in place," said Sikes. "We review it quarterly to make sure the teams know about how the evacuation is supposed to be and it paid off."

The residents are making their way back to Serenity Gardens Tuesday afternoon.

"It went pretty good but everybody was in chairs and it didn't go as fast as we would have liked," said Krieger.

All of the doors and windows are open so the building has been airing out for a few hours. Employees are treating the residents to "Junk Food Tuesday." They had McDonald's Tuesday morning and fried chicken for lunch.


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