Suspect odor at school leads to evacuation

BELINGTON – Belington Elementary School was evacuated Wednesday morning after the odor of gas was detected inside the school.

The source of the odor had not been found by late Wednesday, but Barbour County School Superintendent Joe Super said the school would remain closed today as a precaution.

Students, faculty and staff were taken to Belington Middle School on Wednesday as authorities, including gas company workers, moved in to check for the source of the odor.

State Police Sgt. J.A. Wyatt said at noon that no gas leak had been found.

Super added that gas company crews “could not find any levels of gas inside the school” when they inspected it twice on Wednesday afternoon.

He said that authorities suspect the odor could have been sewer gas but that the investigation would continue.

The Junior Fire Department, Belington Fire Department, Belington Police Department and Philippi Fire Department all responded to the school.

Barbour County schools had already experienced several disturbances of classes this year, including three bomb threats.

A bomb threat on Sept. 4 caused Philip Barbour High School to be put on lockdown. A separate threat on Sept. 24 – one which was not officially identified as a bomb threat – prompted the evacuation of students at PBHS. The threats are not believed to be related.

A juvenile male Philippi Middle School student was charged with terroristic threats following a bomb threat at the school on Oct. 8, officials said.

On Jan. 9, Philip Barbour High School was put on lockdown after school officials learned about a threat, officials said. When asked about the nature of the threat, Super declined to provide details.

Super said PBHS was placed on lockdown sometime in the afternoon of Jan. 8.

The lockdown was lifted by the time buses were ready to transport students home as normal, he said.

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