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Gas leak forces Nazareth Academy to cancel school in La Grange Park

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01/13/2018 | 12:03am CET

Jan. 12--A gas leak on the property of neighboring Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph Thursday resulted in Nazareth Academy, 1212 W. Ogden Ave., in La Grange Park, canceling school Friday after doing the same for after-school and evening activities Thursday.

Nazareth President Dennis Moran said Friday the gas leak occurred during construction work at Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph, 1515 W. Ogden Ave.

"A pipe got hit with a digging machine, and it took them until midnight to fix the leak," Moran said.

Nicor had to excavate the area to reach the damaged line in order to stop the flow of gas. The gas leak was controlled at about 3 p.m.

Moran said Nazareth students had a planned early dismissal at 1 p.m. Thursday. About 30 students not taking school buses home or driving were taken to Park Junior High, 333 North Park Road, La Grange Park, to wait for parents to pick them up, he said.

"That's all part of our emergency evacuation plan, and it went very well," Moran said, noting that it took about 20 minutes to have everyone out of the building after notification of the gas leak about 12:45 p.m.

Moran said the decision to close school for Friday was made mainly because the school was without heat for about 20 hours.

"Our boilers were off because of the leak, and we needed to get them running again to get the heat going," he said.

Air quality was tested Thursday night and again Friday morning, with no problems found, he said.

Firefighters and police assisted securing the immediate areas Thursday, and firefighters began monitoring the air and adjacent buildings, which included senior residential and assisted living buildings, and the high school, the department reported.

Although there were reports of gas odors in some of the buildings and living units, based upon investigation and monitoring for gas levels, it was determined that the buildings did not need to be evacuated. There was though a large area between the complex and the high school where pedestrian and vehicle traffic was prohibited throughout the incident, the Fire Department reported.

The leak appears to have occurred when a contractor conducting underground directional boring for other utilities in the area struck and damaged a 2-inch gas service line feeding Nazareth Academy, the department release stated.

Fire companies remained on the scene throughout the incident, and stood by, while Nicor controlled the leak, and were released at 3:20 p.m., the department reported. There were no reported injuries related to the incident, and no other homes or businesses were affected.

The school announced on Facebook that canceling school Friday will give the staff enough time to make sure the campus is safe and to get the heat up and running in their buildings.

"Students will not be allowed on campus Friday, but all activity may resume on Saturday," the Facebook post read. "Enjoy your long weekend."

The extra day off means students and staff will have a four-day weekend, instead of three days off. Nazareth already was scheduled to be closed Monday for the Martin Luther King holiday.

Nazareth Academy is a Catholic college prep high school with about 780 students.

[email protected]

___

(c)2018 Pioneer Press Newspapers (Suburban Chicago, Ill.)

Visit Pioneer Press Newspapers (Suburban Chicago, Ill.) at www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

© Tribune Content Agency, source Regional News

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