Gas leak causes school evacuation


Photographed by Graham Ross

Middle School students gather on Sprague field after evacuating from a gas leak that occurred at a nearby construction site.

Lucas Cohen-d'Arbeloff and Davis Marks

A gas leak near the Middle School caused a campus-wide evacuation to Sprague Field on Jan. 12. Alarms across campus triggered the evacuation. Students spent four hours on the field before entirely evacuating the campus. The gas leak occurred across the street from the Middle School at an ongoing home construction site. After evacuating school buildings, students remained on the field without food or their belongings until campus safety was fully assessed.

Director of Operations Dave Mintz ’87 said the administration and campus operations team took several steps to respond to the gas leak.

“Our role is, first and foremost, to do everything we can to ensure the safety of all parties: students, faculty and staff,” Mintz said. “We secured the campus and assisted with clearing the buildings, helped provide water to thirsty students and faculty, liaised with the Gas Company supervisors who responded to the incident [and] helped security manage and navigate the afternoon student transportation issues.”

Community Health Officer Milo Sini said the administration used existing fire drill plans to ensure students’ safety as news of the gas leak broke.

“[Students and faculty] were kept safe and everything went how it should have [gone] because our established emergency procedures were all followed,” Sini said. “Despite being different in detail, [the gas leak] was handled with our known fire drill plans, where [students and faculty] evacuate out of buildings to the field.”

Head of Middle School Jon Wimbish told students in an email that the school would be flexible about missed work due to canceled classes.

“There may have been students who left campus without their belongings, and of course, that will have ramifications for homework [Wednesday] and preparation for [Thursday],” Wimbish said. “We will [definitely] be flexible and understanding about extensions, but students should be in touch with teachers as necessary.”

Arya Fattahi ’25 said although he spent a large portion of the day waiting on the field with the middle school community, he said he felt safe because of the safety protocols that guided the response to the leak.

“I think the school handled the events of the nearby gas leak very well,” Fattahi said. “Although we had to be outside for hours, I felt safe and appreciated the measures that were taken by [the] administration.”