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Gas odors trigger evacuations at Hillsboro Elementary
Alliant Energy traces problem to exhaust pipe
alliant truck hillsboro elementary
An Alliant Energy truck arrives at the Hillsboro Elementary School building Oct. 2 after a natural gas odor was detected for a second consecutive day. - photo by Contributed photo

Hillsboro Elementary School students were evacuated from the building on consecutive days last week after natural gas odors were detected.

On Oct. 1, the school evacuated students after the smell of natural gas was reported to staff.

Alliant Energy was contacted as students were being evacuated to the high school gymnasium. While students were relocated to the high school, the decision was made to serve lunch in the high school cafeteria.

Additionally, the district sent notifications via “Remind” (text messaging service) and Facebook to let parents know what was happening.

Students and staff were all safe throughout the evacuation and relocation.

Coulee Region Mechanical Contractors arrived in the afternoon to address any leaks and “pressure test” the gas lines to make sure the issue had been resolved. The gas to the elementary school was shut off, and students returned to their classes around 12 p.m.

On Oct. 2, the natural gas odor was again detected. This time, students were evacuated to the playground areas until Alliant Energy technicians arrived and confirmed that there was no danger to the students or staff.

After investigation, Alliant Energy confirmed that the issue revolved around an exhaust pipe that was close enough to a fresh air intake vent that the exhaust was being pulled back into the ventilation system.

The exhaust pipe will be extended in order to keep the exhaust from re-entering the building.

Superintendent Curt Bisarek said in a press releast that the school administration would like to commend Alliant Energy and Coulee Region Mechanical Contractors for their diligence in responding to its calls, troubleshooting and resolving the issue.

Bisarek added that the administration appreciates the calm and supportive response from the staff (teaching, support, custodial and kitchen) in helping to maintain a calming presence for Hillsboro Elementary students.