Students and staff members were forced to evacuate buildings on West Green after the smell of gas was reported Tuesday afternoon.

The leak was reported a little before 4 p.m., and forced people to leave Grover Center, the Aquatics Center and Bird Arena.

Athens Fire Department responded to the call along with the Ohio University Police Department. 

After about 45 minutes, the buildings were deemed safe to re-enter.

Firefighters enter Grover Center, which was evacuated after the smell of gas was reported coming from in between Grover and the aquatic center.

Mike Philibin, a firefighter with AFD, confirmed the leak.

"There's a gas leak between Grover Center and the Aquatics Center," Philibin said. "It seems to be under control right now."

Philibin said Columbia Gas was on the scene and had taken care of the problem.

Tia Barrett, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer for the College of Health Sciences and Professions, was working in her office in Grover Center when she had to evacuate.

"The building alarm went off and told everybody to evacuate," Barrett said. "We came outside and we heard someone said they had heard it's a gas leak."

Barrett said she didn't smell any gas inside the building.

Dana Nocera, a second year graduate student studying physical therapy, said she smelled gas after she left Grover Center.

"When I walked by the aquatic center, it reeked of gas," Nocera said.

Mark Riley, the technology coordinator for the College of Health Sciences and Professions, said firefighters were already present by the time he exited Grover Center.

"Right when we got out the door, firefighters were on scene," Riley said. "The firefighters were telling us as we headed out the door it wasn't a false alarm, it was a gas leak."

Riley also reported smelling gas once he left Grover Center.

"We smelled some gas for a little bit here, it wasn't until we got outside," Riley said.

Despite it being Reading Day, the evacuation disrupted schedules for some. 

The formal rush meeting for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority was moved from Grover to Porter Hall. 

Nocera said she was in her research lab getting ready to play dodgeball for her physical therapy research group when she was forced to evacuate.

Riley, who had planned on leaving his office early, said he was in the process of sending his last email when the alarm forced him to leave.

"I was gonna head out of here early on a slow Reading Day," he said. "But it looks like I'm here until 5."


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