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Broken gas line at construction site forces Monday morning evacuations

Belmont students woke to blaring sirens Monday morning after a contractor working on the “Tall Hall” construction site hit a gas line, causing a gas leak and immediate evacuation of several residence halls.

Confused students in pajamas and bathrobes shuffled outside into the cold, rainy morning air — the alarms audible from the mail center blocks away.

Hillside residents were directed to the newly-dedicated Belmont Ministry Center on 12th Avenue South, while residents of Dickens, Horrell, Russell and Thrailkill halls were sent to the Curb Event Center.

No students were reportedly harmed by the leak.

“A civil constructor hit the gas line, but Piedmont was immediately called and capped it, so everything was back to normal as soon as possible,” said Dan Calhoun, a project manager for R.C. Mathews.

Belmont Editorial and News Content Director April Hefner said the incident began during excavation for a sewer line on the site.

Belmont Campus Security received a call from R.C. Mathews shortly before 9 a.m. reporting the gas leak, said Chief of Campus Security Pat Cunningham.

The decision to evacuate followed shortly after Campus Security arrived on the scene.

“I think Risk Management and Residence Life were on the scene at the same time and were seeing what the scope of it was. It was a larger line, so the decision was made to evacuate then,” Cunningham said. “We talked with the construction personnel, and they said they needed to evacuate the entire area, so we began the process.”

Belmont’s Office of Communications emailed students and faculty at 9:12 a.m. notifying them of the incident. Shortly after, another email confirmed that the issue had been resolved.

At the same time as the gas leak, students saw an individual being taken away in an ambulance, however, Director of Risk Management and Compliance April Khoury confirmed that was unrelated to the leak.

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Written by Bronte Lebo with contributing reporting from Harrison Baldwin and Zach Gilchriest. Videos by Cooper Smith. 

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