Hundreds of primary school pupils were evacuated from an Inverness school yesterday following fears of a suspected gas leak.
Around 420 pupils and dozens of staff at Merkinch Primary School in Telford Street were escorted off the premises by firefighters shortly before 11am as emergency services rushed to the scene.
Householders in the immediate area were also evacuated for a short period of time.
The incident came as the listed Victorian building is in the throes of a major development.
Work is underway for the construction of a new L-shaped primary and nursery block adjacent to the existing building.
A Highland Council spokeswoman said: “Due to a suspected gas leak, pupils and staff of Merkinch Primary School have been evacuated as a precaution this morning to St Michael and All Angels’ Church, Inverness.
“All pupils and staff are safe and well. The school/council are working with the emergency services who are carrying out checks.”
Two fire crews were called to the scene along with police officers to lock down the area surrounding the building.
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A cordon was put into place by police closing various roads surrounding the school for more than an hour as engineers from gas distribution company SGN began searching the kitchen area of the property for the potential source of a leak.
However, Dan Brown, spokesman for SGN, said no gas had been detected at the property.
He said: “Following reports of a smell of gas at Merkinch Primary School, our engineers were called on Thursday morning to support the emergency services in our capacity as the National Gas Emergency Service.
Thank you everyone for your support today. We are now back at school. If you have not collected your child yet please collect them from school
“We’ve carried out safety checks and there’s nothing to suggest the smell is coming from our network.”
Meanwhile, dozens of neighbouring residents were also evacuated from their homes by police for around 45 minutes as a “precautionary measure.”
One local resident said: “I was at the back of the house making dough for a loaf when I glanced out and saw the flashing lights of the fire appliances and the police
“I didn’t smell any gas myself but there was tape from the gates of the school across the road to the lamp post and there was a couple of police offices about.
“Then they knocked at the door and asked us to leave and go down to the cordon. It was all done very efficiently. It only lasted about 45 minutes.”
Parents were notified of the closure via text message and social media.
Councillor Bet McAllister said: “I’m just glad everything went to plan and the people got there and got the kids out and made sure everyone was safe. No-one was allowed in at all. We can’t take any chances, with over 400 kids and staff.
School will be open as normal tomorrow
“It’s a shame for the parents but I am sure they will understand. They have to do what they have to do to make sure everyone was safe. They did the procedures and it worked. The kids were fine.”
The school is scheduled to re-open as normal today.