Gas line break, fire forces evacuation of Apollo Middle School - Tucson News Now

Gas line break, fire forces evacuation of Apollo Middle School

(Source: Tucson Fire Department) (Source: Tucson Fire Department)
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Apollo Middle School had to be evacuated Friday morning when a construction crew hit a natural gas line.

Sunnyside Unified School District says the crew was helping put in a new guard shack in the school parking lot and was digging a trench when the trencher hit the line.

Flames shot into the air as Tucson firefighters kept water on the blaze to keep it from spreading.

Police blocked off streets.

Apollo's 800 students were evacuated.

No one was hurt, though the trencher was heavily damaged.

Students' parents were called.

"I'm like trying to rush over there and I see all these cops and I'm like, oh my god. But I mean I think they're safe because they moved them safely, all the children to Liberty School," said Jennifer Bueras whose children attend Apollo and Liberty.

"They are safe. They all moved to Liberty. The school immediately evacuated them. That's really good," said Tion Ware who was going to pick up his cousin's children.

Relatives of the children were told they could pick them up at Liberty Elementary where the students had been briefly evacuated too when the break first happened.

However, Liberty students were quickly returned to class.

Apollo parents arrived in droves to pick up their children.

"Communicating with us and letting us know when our children are safe. Obviously, they are good. They're giving them water. The nurses are there to help them," said Christine Basurto, the aunt of some Apollo students.

As various crews worked to shut off the gas and put out the fire the students learned what was happening.

Once they knew their school was okay, they seemed more surprised by what happened rather than scared.

"I was kind of shocked because like everything just happened so suddenly, and but we were prepared because we do this many times. We practice and practice. I think all those practices really helped us be ready for an actual fire," said seventh-grader Mya Hernandez.

"I feel like I was being taken care of but I was like shocked at first. I was like, there's an actual fire. Because usually like when we have a fire drill, or we do something like that, it's just like a drill and, in this case, it actually helped us a lot because it was like we all came out orderly and we all behaved properly," said eighth-grader Adrian Hernandez.

The Sunnyside Unified School District says it ordered 2,000 bottles of water to be delivered to Liberty school when all the children were outside.

Friday was an early release day and the Liberty children were set to go home early.

Apollo students were moved to the cafeteria where those who had not been picked up had their lunch.

Apollo students said their teachers kept them calm and feeling safe.

"They just made sure that we were okay, hydrated and we weren't, like, we weren't in danger," said eighth-grader Alysa Anaya.

Sunnyside says it will investigate why the contractor hit the gas line.

Southwest Gas says there is no record of the contractor contacting the Blue Stake service to find out where the gas line is.

Southwest Gas had the line fixed by late Friday afternoon.

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