Gas leak forces evacuation

Photo: Claudio Calligaris

About 200 people were evacuated from four University buildings Tuesday at lunch hour after construction workers accidentally severed a three-quarter-inch gas pipe outside the Otto Maass Chemistry Building near the corner of University and Sherbrooke streets.

Otto Maass was immediately evacuated, along with the Pulp and Paper Institute next door and Royal Victoria College (RVC) across the street, while Burnside Hall, which is connected to the chemistry building by an underground passage, was also evacuated a short time later.

There were no injuries and, it being the height of summer and the prime hour for lunch, the buildings were far less full than they might have been otherwise.

There was a loud and constant hiss near the site and the smell of gas was palpable as Sherbrooke St. filled with fire trucks and other emergency vehicles. Workers from Gaz Métro sealed the leak within about an hour and shortly thereafter people were allowed to return to their buildings.

The work involves the construction of a new service duct bank under University St. between Otto Maas and the RVC residences.