BCC evacuated after Thursday morning gas leak


PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Community College officials met on Thursday afternoon to discuss campus procedure after a third incident resulting in gas leaks due to campus construction prompted a late-morning temporary evacuation of its West Street main campus.

In June, work crews began on the primary construction work related to a state-funded $23 million renovation of the college's Hawthorne and Melville halls. The general contractor is D.A. Sullivan & Sons of Northampton.

According to a BCC spokesperson, Thursday's evacuation, which occurred at approximately 11:15 a.m., was related to a gas line that was accidentally severed during construction. Similar incidents happened in August.

"The evacuation process went very smoothly," said Public Relations Manager Heidi Weber in response to Thursday's incident. "Berkshire Gas [Company] and the Pittsfield Fire Department arrived on the scene quickly. The leak was capped in approximately 15 minutes and the campus community was cleared to re-enter the buildings shortly after noon. Classes and activities continued as scheduled."

Pittsfield police also responded to assist. The atmosphere on campus, which also includes a childcare center, appeared to be calm. Many people seemed to be enjoying the day's unseasonably warm weather as faculty and campus security staff carrying radio communication devices helped to direct traffic, escort people to safety areas and usher them back into the buildings. Some students did opt not to go back to class after the evacuation.

Said Weber, "The safety and security of our students, faculty and staff are a top priority. We appreciate the cooperation of the campus community as well as the quick efforts by Berkshire Gas and the Pittsfield Fire Department."

Contact reporter Jenn Smith at 413-496-6239.


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