Drayer Hall Evacuated due to Gas Leak


Drew Kaplan '20

Drew Kaplan '20, Editor in Chief

College Street was closed between High Street and Pomfret Street around 7:30 p.m. as Drayer Hall was evacuated in response to a call reporting a possible gas leak. The gas leak was later confirmed by UGI, the local gas company, according to Associate Dean of Students Angie Harris. Numerous engines responded to the call, blocking the street as both firefighters and Department of Public Safety (DPS) officers cleared the building of students.

On the scene, Harris said “someone did report an odor of gas. There is a possible gas leak in Drayer Hall.” Harris added that, because “there is an odor of gas,” it was decided to evacuate the building. “Out of an abundance of caution, they’re [DPS] calling in the gas company to make sure that there is not a leak in the building.”

Associate Director of Public Safety Michael Guido declined to comment on the scene.

In an email the following day, Captain Guido reported that DPS received notification of the leak at 7:27 p.m., and that “an odor of gas was discovered on the exterior of the building.” He furthered that the building was then evacuated in accordance with “protocol set up between the college and the local fire department.”

Harris stated the following day that “DPS went through and made sure everyone was out, […] which is protocol.” She explained that “there was a report of gas to DPS. I let students know that the fire chief wanted to have UGI check out the situation.” She furthered that approximately 45 minutes later, UGI arrived and “discover[ed] a small leak in a [gas] pipe. Harris continued that gas to the building had been turned off after the initial report, but because a leak had been confirmed, gas “remained turned off for the building last night.” The only consequence of the leak for residents was that “last night there was no hot water.” Harris stated that the Office of Facilities Management replaced the pipe the next morning. “By 8:30 am the pipe had been replaced, and the gas was back on and the hot water was back on.”

Drayer residents received an emailed from Residence Life and Housing later that night explaining that the gas company had found gas leaking from a gas pipe in the building, and that gas to the building had been turned off. The email continued that because the hot water heater for the building is gas powered, students may be without hot water temporarily. “The gas remains off to the building, and both the fire department and the gas company have determined it is safe for students to return to their rooms,” the email concluded.

Students expressed confusion about the evacuation procedure. Zoe Jacks ’23, a Drayer resident, explained that she initially believed the noise of the evacuation to be her roommate. “I heard a really loud knock on my door […] I just thought my roommate was really angry, and so I opened it, […] and it was a DPS guy.” She furthered that the officer explained that the building was being evacuated due to the potential leak.

Caroline Nilsen ’23, also a Drayer resident, reported that she found out about the evacuation after the noise of other students evacuating aroused her suspicions. “I heard a bunch of commotion in the hall. I had my door open, and I saw a man in full fire uniform. So I grabbed my stuff and I ran out.” Nilsen explained that she was informed about the gas leak by a friend after exiting the building.

Jocelyn Wright ’23, another Drayer resident, recounted that she initially thought little of the noise. “I’m like, this is a college dorm, there are weird noises all the time.” However, after “some other resident popped his head in my [room] and goes ‘evacuate,’” she did leave the building. Wright added that she “got no explanation, so [she] just figured it [was] a drill.” Others outside clarified for her that it was not a drill.

Harris added “We were able to address it quickly. I think it was great that the student called it in.”