All is calm at East Boston charter school following gas leak scare on Monday morning

December 17, 2009
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Excel Academy Charter School, known for its discipline and educational prowess, was thrown into chaos Monday morning following a gas leak scare at the school’s Saratoga Street campus.

The Boston Fire Department was notified by a maintenance worker of a smell of natural gas leaking from the school’s roof a little before 11 a.m. Monday. The school’s 211 students in attendance were immediately evacuated to the neighboring CVS parking lot where a triage was set up by Boston Fire and EMS. These emergency crews identified 23 students that said they felt light headed and/or nauseous after smelling the odor in the school.

“There was a possible gas leak on the roof of the school,” said Boston Fire Captain Richard Hartnett. “Some teachers and students said they could smell a natural gas odor and the school was evacuated. Between 20 to 23 students complained of nausea and dizziness so they have been taken to the hospital for evaluation as a precaution.”

MBTA buses were brought in to keep the other 190 or so students warm until the building was checked out by NStar and Boston Fire HazMat crews.

“There were no serious injuries,” said Boston Fire Chief Ron Keating. “The building was checked out and students were able to return to class.”

NStar and Boston Fire said that their meter reading showed no significant gas leak but are investigating whether or not work being done on the school’s roof could have caused a minor gas leak. The school reopened and students that were not taken to the hospital or home by a parent went back to class.

Excel Academy Charter School (www.excelacademy.org) is a tuition-free, public middle school serving Chelsea and East Boston.

Its mission is to prepare students to succeed in high school and college, apply their learning to solve relevant problems and engage productively in the community. Excel currently serves 211 students in grades five through eight, of which two-thirds are Latino and low-income.

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