A damaged gas line for a welding torch led to the evacuation of more than 1,600 students Monday afternoon from Kamiakin High School.
The evacuation occurred just after 2 p.m., about 20 minutes before the school day ended. School officials had to reroute some school buses because of the incident but there was no structural damage or injuries.
School and fire officials said the incident occurred in Kamiakin High's 400 building, where the welding program is located.
"Apparently the torch hose got up against some hot material and started to smoke," said Marvin Leonard, deputy fire chief for the Kennewick Fire Department.
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Principal Chris Chelin said the teacher saw what was happening and pulled the school's fire alarm. The alarm shut down the gas line and notified students and staff to evacuate. Students were moved away from the school, including to the far side of Kamiakin High's track next to Metaline Avenue, as firefighters arrived.
Students were kept out of the building for about 20 minutes before they were allowed to re-enter, though they were kept out of a few classrooms in the 400 building as firefighters continued to work in those rooms.
Classes were dismissed shortly after students were allowed back in. Fire trucks blocked the school's bus loop and forced administrators to reroute buses to a secondary traffic loop on Arthur Street.
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