Tope Elementary evacuated; all residents allowed to return home

Update 10:25 a.m.
All residents evacuated due to Tuesday’s gas leak and explosion are being allowed to return home this morning.

Any residents returning home need to check in at the Seventh Day Adventist Church, 730 Mesa Ave., before entering their homes. They’ll be paired with an Xcel Energy employee who will go inside with them to turn on their gas and electricity and re-light pilot lights.

Xcel and Grand Junction city crews will remain in the area for the next several days continuing to test and evaluate the area to make sure it remains safe. Authorities say residents and workers in the area should not be alarmed by the presence of these crews and that they are there simply out of an abundance of caution.

Seventh Street will remain closed for now to allow workers and their equipment access to the street and for any additional ventilating to occur. Residents needing to access their homes from Seventh Street can do so by coming north from Elm Avenue.
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Emergency and School District 51 officials have evacuated all students and staff from Tope Elementary School this morning after someone smelled natural gas coming from a manhole on the school property.

Parents are being asked to pick their children up from West Middle School, where students have been bused. Authorities say parents can meet at the commons area of West starting at 10 a.m. to pick up their children.

Xcel Energy and Grand Junction city crews have tested and evaluated the area around Tope and have determined there is no danger to the school or surrounding neighborhood at this time, incident spokeswoman Kate Porras said.

The school is in close proximity to the scene of a major natural gas explosion and fire Tuesday, and many residents in the area have not been allowed back into their homes since then. Tope was evacuated Tuesday afternoon and school was canceled Wednesday before classes resumed Thursday.

Check back at GJSentinel.com for details throughout the day.



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