Officials Blame Sewer Odor for Evacuation of 500 Children at Haverhill Middle School

Emergency vehicles line up at the Dr. Paul Nettle School Thursday morning.

About 500 children were evacuated from Haverhill’s Dr. Paul Nettle School this morning after staff reported a strong odor that could have been natural gas.

Students were sent outside about 8:15 a.m. and remained outdoors for about an hour. Principal Timothy Corkery told parents officials eventually concluded the odor to be sulfur-like from the city’s sewage system outside. The 150 Boardman St. school in the city’s Riverside neighborhood serves students in grades 5-8.

Utilities to the school were turned off as a precaution and Trinity EMS made an ambulance available for special needs students. Parents visiting the school were diverted away from the main entrance as fire, police and other emergency vehicles blocked the street.

The Haverhill Fire Department ruled out a natural gas leak just before 9 a.m., but waited for National Grid for confirmation. Students and staff were admitted to the building a few minutes later. Corkery notified parents of the all-clear in an email about 9:15.

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