Drains blamed for sparking evacuation

Emergency services are at the scene.
Emergency services are at the scene.

Drains may have been to blame for sparking an alert at a Larne primary school on Monday morning.

Larne and Inver Primary School was evacuated to First Larne Presbyterian Church when a strong smell of gas was detected outside at breaktime.

The alarm was raised by principal Kirk Patterson who phoned the fire brigade.

Following protocol, the school was evacuated to First Larne Presbyterian Church as a safety precaution.

Mr. Patterson said: “There was a smell of gas outside the school, so I telephoned the Fire Brigade just to make sure everything was OK.”

A spokesperson for Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said: “NIFRS received a call regarding a smell of gas outside Larne and Inver Primary School. All pupils were safely evacuated and PSNI evacuated nearby houses.

“Fire fighters took gas readings using gas monitors. All gas readings were confirmed as normal and the incident was dealt with by 12.19pm.”

Three fire crews were in attendance from Larne, one from Ballyclare and one from Whitehead.

NIFRS said that the incident was handed over to Phoenix Natural Gas for investigation.

Phoenix has confirmed that there was no gas leak.

Mr. Patterson went on to say that pupils were sent home coming up to lunchtime as they were unable to return to the school to collect their lunches and staff were not allowed into the building until approximately 2.00pm.

“Everybody was safe. We followed school procedure and policy.”

This is not the first time that premises have been evacuated due to a town centre alert over a gas smell.

Previously, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service has blamed sewers as the source of the odour.

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has praised the emergency services for their response to the suspected gas leak.