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Tent Stake Reputures Gas Line, Forces College Buildings Evacuation

A stake from a tent set up for Friday's inauguration of new Gordon College President D. Michael Lindsay ruptured a gas line that was not discovered until Saturday when the tent was being taken down.

A ruptured gas line in the Quad at on Saturday afternoon required a dormitory and four academic buildings to be evacuated.

There were no injuries or damage reported.

The 4-inch diameter line in front of the Ken Olsen Science Center was ruptured when the stake from a tent being set up for Friday afternoon’s inauguration festivities. But the ruptured line was not discovered until Saturday afternoon when the tent was being taken down. The received a call about the leak at 3:14 p.m.

“When we arrived we realized the situation and started evacuating buildings,” said Wenham Fire Chief Bob Blanchard. “When they pulled the stake out they discovered the leak – it didn’t leak when it went it but it leaked when it came out.”

Blanchard said the leak was immediately evident after the stake was removed because of the sound it was creating and the smell of the gas.

Chase Hall, a 162-bed suite-style dorm, was evacuated, in addition to four academic buildings.

College spokeswoman Jo Kadlecek said about 150 students were evacuated from the dorm. Most headed to dinner, she said.

and Gordon College Campus Safety assisted firefighters in evacuating the buildings.

The ruptured line served the campus and service was never interrupted while repaired were made.

“We were able to isolate the damage to a section of the line and nobody lost service,” said Amy Zorich, a National Grid spokeswoman.

Wenham firefighters stayed in scene until about 6 p.m. when National Grid cleared them. A National Grid crew worked until about 10:30 p.m. to complete the repairs, Zorich said.

Blanchard said the college was lucky that the leak didn’t occur prior to the or during the event.

Blanchard said that school officials said that tents have been put up in the past in the same location without incident and that nobody reported the smell of gas until Saturday afternoon.

“It’s a lesson learned,” Blanchard said.

Zorich said it is a reminder that before digging or putting stakes into the ground, people should check with the proper authorities to make sure there are not any buried utilities in the area.

“We always encourage people to call Dig Safe before they dig or drive a stake into the ground,” Zorich said.

It has yet to be determined who will pay the cost of the repairs, Zorich said.

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