Flood at El Reno school leads district officials to gas leak

EL RENO, Okla. (KFOR) – A flood at an elementary school in El Reno led district officials to a much more serious issue: a gas leak.

However, the problems didn’t end there. It was bad enough that they had to move everyone to another location to teach and learn for the next week and a half.

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The building at Rose Witcher Elementary School in El Reno is safe to be in right now since no gas is running to the building. On Friday, faculty and staff could be seen getting things ready to move out for a while.

All of this happened after a pinhole water leak was found Tuesday and that discovery led to another one that appears to be life saving.

“We went down there for a water leak and found something that could have possibly turned into something really serious that didn’t,” district Supt. Matt Goucher said Friday.

Goucher called the scenario ‘divine intervention.’

It was Tuesday night when they got a call from a custodian at the elementary school. Goucher said they learned there was a flooded hallway in the school.

“We had a water fountain that had a leak in it,” Goucher said.

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The building holds 360 first and second graders and another 52 staff members. So, Goucher decided to move school to virtual the next day in hopes of getting it all cleaned up.

But during that process, they ran into another problem.

“We smell gas,” he said.

They called the fire department and a local plumber before quickly shutting the gas off to the building to fix the issue, which they did.

But yet again, they stumbled across another problem.

“That school was built in 1947,” Goucher said. “So, you can imagine how corroded some of those gas lines and stuff were.”

Plumbers and inspectors delivered the news that the lines may not hold due to their age and condition.

So, Goucher decided to have them all completely replaced.

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In the meantime, teachers and kids will move to First Baptist Church in El Reno to continue in person instruction.

“It just shows what a wonderful community we’re in and that we’re going to do the best for our kids and the safest for our kids is the main thing,” he said.

Goucher said the kids have been in virtual learning since Wednesday.

It should take about 10 days from Monday, Feb 5 to finish the work and get the students and staff all moved back in.

Goucher said before they do, a city inspector, ONG, and their local plumber will sign off on it.

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