Spokane, WA- Nearly 400 Indian Trail Elementary students received an unscheduled break and a surprise visit from the Spokane Fire Department after the school was evacuated when a maintenance person broke a natural gas line at the school with a lawnmower.

“The classroom heard a thump, teacher came out and checked, she called the office and we called a code one and evacuated the building,” Principal Paul Gannon said.

Shortly after 10 a.m. the Spokane Fire Department got a call of a natural gas leak at the northwest Spokane school, located at 4102 W. Woodside. Students were evacuated and Spokane fire, HazMat and Avista crews were called in.

Firefighters say it was about a half-inch line that ruptured with the sound of the gas hissing out of the broken line could be heard from two to three blocks away. Avista crews were able to stop the leak before the gas reached a flame or spark that could have ignited an explosion.

Students milled outside on the far east side of the school while Avista crews walked through the grounds to make sure the building was safe. School officials were given the all clear and kids were let back into their classrooms just before 11 a.m.

The gas line that ruptured connects to a portable school unit just west of the main building. Avista shut off the gas and started work Thursday morning to repair the line.

Sutherlin Rd. was closed off temporarily to allow room for the several emergency response vehicles that responded to the scene.

Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer praised the students and staff of Indian Trail Elementary for the swift and safe evacuation of the school.

“I tell you what it was a good exercise of their plan they performed it right to the tee they did a great job,” Schaeffer said.

“We’d done all our crisis drills for year so this was a great live performance,” Principal Gannon added. “There are some things I’d like to improve but overall it went well.”