SAN BRUNO (CBS/BCN) – The smell of gas Thursday morning prompted the evacuation of a San Bruno elementary school near the site of last week’s deadly explosion and fire, but it appeared to be a false alarm, a PG&E spokesman said.

Sometime between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., the smell of gas was reported at Portola Elementary School, and school staff immediately notified PG&E, San Bruno Park School District coordinator Cheryl Peruchetti said.

PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith said crews responded and “the initial indication is there is no evidence of a gas leak.”

Additional crews were brought in to verify that assessment, and PG&E encouraged “all folks to stay a safe distance from the area” while the investigation continues.

As a precaution, students and staff at Portola, located at 300 Amador Ave., were evacuated and taken to Parkside Intermediate School, Peruchetti said.

Parents were picking up their children in the cafeteria at Parkside, located at 1801 Niles Ave.

Parent Jerry Corbett came by to pick up his daughter and said he thinks someone just overreacted.

“Of course, absolutely it’s super-charged, as it probably should be,” he said. “I guess you can never anticipate these things and I think everyone is nervous and overly cautious about the situation.”

Another parent, Norm Barton said he’s frustrated with the way people’s lives keep getting disrupted.

His house survived the fire, even though he was evacuated for four days.

“It has to be upsetting for our daughter to miss another day of school,” Barton said. “They canceled last Friday and they didn’t need to cancel in the sense of safety. Portola is a safe area.”

PG&E said the heightened sensitivity is resulting in more calls across its entire service area.

Peruchetti said classes were canceled for the day at Portola, which is less than a mile from the site of the Sept. 9 explosion and fire that killed four people and injured more than 50 others.

Thirty-seven homes were destroyed in the disaster and another 19 sustained substantial damage, according to San Bruno officials.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)


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