Even though El Capitan Elementary School suffered a potential gas scare that merited the evacuation of several classrooms early on Thursday morning, Delhi Unified School District superintendent Adolfo Melara reported that one of the teachers positively equated it to the calmness associated with any other day.
“One of the teachers told me that they were very impressed to see the teachers working together effectively and the children being so well behaved,” said Melara. “It was just like a normal day because it was so organized.”
At 9:53 a.m., El Capitan principal Gena Buchanan was alerted to the potentially dangerous situation by one of the school’s kindergarten teachers, who smelled a slight gas odor in one of the classrooms. This notification was immediately followed up by the school’s custodian, who investigated the smell in the reported classroom, as well as the two adjacent classrooms.
Simultaneously, staff moved students to a different area of campus as a precautionary measure. Buchanan also made a call to local law enforcement and the fire department.
Only 22 minutes following the initial report, the deputy sheriff, fire department, lead custodian from Shattuck Educational Park, and director of maintenance joined El Capitan’s lead custodian at the scene. A full investigation of the blocked off building was conducted.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company later arrived at the scene to carry out an investigation and inspection. As a safety measure, the company made the decision to turn off the gas while it continued its analysis.
At 11:45 a.m., students returned to class, as both PG&E and the fire department determined it was safe to do so.