NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Colegrove Park Elementary School pupils were released early on Thursday after the report of gas smell in the kitchen turned up a different problem in the hot water system.
The school was evacuated for a gas smell then dismissed for a hot water problem.
Fire Chief Stephen Meranti said the report of the smell came in before school started so students were gathered on arrival and evacuated to the nearby First Baptist Church.
"The alarm came in before the kids were at school so I believe the kids never entered the building," Meranti said. "They assembled the kids outside and we redirected them to their normal evacuation site.
"We called in Berkshire Gas to try to locate the issue -- that it was definitely that appliance -- and in looking for that problem, that issue, they found another issue with the gas hot water heater. So the reason why it's taking so long to them get back here, we wanted to make sure that they had hot water before."
The report came in at 8:14 and the school was deemed safe by about 9:40 a.m. but when it appeared the hot water heater couldn't be fixed immediately, school officials decided to call it a half-day and send the children home.
All of the children were escorted back to the school for an assembly and to wait for dismissal at 11:30.
The prekindergarten class was shuttled to and from the church. When they were sent out to board the bus from the church, they were greeted by local officers and state police troopers who high-fived them.
The older classes trooped up the hill where Principal Amy Meehan waited to tell them they were doing a good job.
The last time the school was fully evacuated was in 2008 when student at what was then Conte Middle School spilled mercury to get a day off. The building was closed three days to be decontaminated.
Thursday's evacuation response included Police Chief Michael Cozzaglio and North Adams police officers, personnel from Northern Berkshire EMS, the Fire Department, school safety personnel, and state police troopers.
North Church Street was closed twice to allow the children to cross.
"It's a nice day. It was good practice," said Meranti. "Everything went well."
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