Natural Gas Leak Spurs Evacuation

Patients and staff at the Tony Teramana Cancer Center were being sent home Wednesday morning as city firefighters and Columbia Gas crews searched for the source of a strong natural gas odor at the Trinity Medical Center West campus.

Patients receiving medical care were allowed to stay in the cancer center. A city fire department spokesman said Catholic Central High School also evacuated students and teachers from the school.

“Our students and teachers are outside of the building at this point while we wait for the gas company to check our facilities to ensure there is no problem in the building. I have walked through the school and have not detected any smell of natural gas,” said Central Principal Rich Wilinski.

The initial call to the fire department came at 9:20 a.m., and responding firefighters said they immediately smelled natural gas.

A security guard stationed at the entrance to the Trinity West campus was stopping all traffic from entering the area.

“Patients have not been moved. It is just the medical pavilion that was evacuated,” Trinity spokesman Keith Murdock said.

Murdock said ambulances and family members were allowed to enter the Trinity West campus to pick up discharged patients.

Columbia Gas representatives determined there was no gas leak on Trinity property.

While here was no risk to staff or patients Murdock said the evacuation was made out of caution.

“Most people evacuated were visiting physicians and patients in the medical pavilion.

Ambulance traffic was diverted to other medical facilities.

The gas was being turned back on in the medical pavilion at 10:30 a.m.” Murdock said.

The area was declared safe at 11:35 a.m., and normal operations resumed.