San Diego

SDG&E Apologizes for Fumes from Gas Line Work That Led to Cancellation of Classes at 2 National City Elementary Schools

San Diego Gas & Electric apologized for a miscommunication that led to the evacuation of hundreds of elementary school-aged kids at two National City schools Monday.

El Toyon School and Rancho de la Nacion Elementary school were evacuated Monday morning after people reported smelling gas fumes at the campuses located just east of Interstate 805. 

The fumes were coming from the area of 4th Street and Palm Avenue, on the west side of the freeway, where SDG&E crews were bleeding a gas line in order to make upgrades.

Flyers were placed on residences and businesses two days ahead of the scheduled line bleed to notify people in the area but the schools were not alerted, SDG&E spokesperson Joe Britton said. Notices were only placed about 500 feet from the work area.

The students were evacuated from the campuses and taken to Wrigley's Shopping Center across the street from the schools and about a half-mile further from the bleeding gas line, National School District spokesperson Debra Hernandez said. 

They were then transported by bus to evacuation sites; students from Rancho de la Nacion were bussed to Ira Harbison School and students from El Toyon School were taken to Lincoln Acres School, Hernandez said.  

SDG&E later said the fumes posed no danger, but both elementary schools canceled classes for the day and parents were allowed to pick up their students from the evacuation sites.

"We apologize for the confusion and disruption the gas odor caused the students, faculty, and parents of El Toyon and Rancho de la Nación schools," SDG&E said in a statement and tweet.

The utility said the two schools fell outside of the notification zone, which included businesses and homes located within a 600-foot radius of the construction site.

"As a result of what happened today, we are re-examining our notification process to improve our communication with schools," the statement read.

SDG&E said the work at the site near 4th Street and Palm Avenue will continue through Wednesday and crews will again be purging gas from the lines. It added that people in the area may smell gas in the air but the area will be safe.

No other information was available.

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