Invisible threat leads to evacuation of Building 11

a automatic shutoff valve, was responsible for the gas leak
A solenoid electronic switch, a automatic shutoff valve, was responsible for the gas leak in causing an evacuation of Building 11 on Wednesday Oct. 28.

On Oct. 28 Hillary Elms, an English as a Second Language teacher, noticed something strange.

“I was walking around and in one area … it smelled like gas,” Elms said. “I called Public Safety, the non-emergency line, and told them where I was.”

Elms was the first person to report the leak in Building 11. Public Safety responded immediately and once they arrived the alarms were sounded. The alarm’s lights flashed and alerted everyone inside of the building to evacuate.

“They [her students] were a little alarmed when they saw the Public Safety officer,” Elms said. However, once the officer arrived she reassured her students that they were just checking the room.

The anxiety seemed to continue among the students while they were being evacuated from the building.

“Students were a little panicked and were rushed out,” said Amelia Salzman, an office assistant in Building 11.“There was a panic among the students but they [Public Safety] seemed really calm.” Students remained outside of the Building 11 for an hour until the building was deemed safe to return.

Northwest Natural, the gas service provider for Lane and a mechanical contractor were contacted to assist with the situation. Small gas leaks were also found in Buildings 9 and 10. The levels in the buildings were too low to prompt evacuation. The problem came from a faulty valve installed outside of Building 12 and was replaced.

To get timely announcements about gas leaks or other potential emergencies at Lane, students should sign up for LaneAlert by logging into the myLane system from the college home page and clicking on Lane Alert Emergency Notification in the Personal Information section.