Hermitage gas-line break prompts pupils' evacuation

HERMITAGE, Pa. -- Elementary school pupils got another unexpected break in their day when a work crew relocating a gas line in connection with the Pa. Route 18 widening project ruptured the line.
Fire Marshal Robert Goeltz said the break occurred about 10 feet from the wall of a small shopping plaza across the street from the Shenango Valley Mall around 2:20 p.m. Wednesday.
The plaza, the nearby Hermitage Middle School and Hermitage, Artman and Delahunty elementary schools were evacuated briefly until the leak was stopped, he said.
Pupils were moved to a grassy area at the rear of the school property until the "all clear" signal was given, Goeltz said.
It was the second disruption of classes in less than a week.
Workers had ruptured another gas line in the same general area Friday afternoon, and pupils were evacuated then as well.
Goeltz said the breaks have become commonplace during the Route 18 project. There have been about a dozen of them so far, he said.
The road project is to be finished in November. The road is being widened between State Street and a point just north of Lamor Road.

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