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November 1, 2021

(La Grande) - At approximately 8:30 am on Monday, November 1, 2021, Central Elementary became aware of a potential gas leak and evacuated all students to La Grande High School. After an investigation by Avista Utilities and with the support of the La Grande Fire Department, it was determined there was not a gas leak. Students began returning to the building at 10:00 am.

Central Elementary Principal Monica West said the students and staff quickly and calmly filed to the La Grande High School gymnasium and auditorium. “Our staff kept the students organized and engaged while they waited for news that it was safe to return. I am proud of this team.”

La Grande School District Superintendent George Mendoza determined the need to activate the Emergency Operating Procedure and the evacuation went smoothly. “The safety of our students was of utmost concern. All students were safely evacuated and accounted for, the fire department and Avista Utilities were contacted, and our off-site location was determined and readied for the students. Once it was determined normal building operations could resume, students were returned to Central in an orderly manner.”

The district has shut down the kitchen air handler unit to resolve the source of the smell and repair parts are on their way. The weather inversion did not allow the air to dissipate as it normally does. The district has a natural gas monitor in place and will be monitoring for gas leaks out of an abundance of caution.