Natural gas leak causes brief evacuations at UW-W campus

Brad Allen, Managing Editor

A natural gas leak near Starin Road caused brief evacuations from several campus buildings at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, university officials and campus police confirmed.

Upham Hall, Ambrose Health Center and the University Bookstore were placed under evacuation orders just after 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 6, UW-Whitewater officials said in a news release at 1:19 p.m.

In a second news release at 1:32 p.m., officials said Upham Hall was no longer being evacuated and added that ambrose Health Center and the bookstore would reopen at 1:45 p.m.

UW-W Police Services Chief Matthew Kiederlen said it was his immediate assumption that a safety valve had popped.

“It’s my understanding that a safety valve popped,” Kiederlen said. “WE Energies was on the scene pretty quickly. It was a real quick incident, and we had everybody back in the buildings by 1:45 [p.m].”

Kiederlen said the evacuations at three campus buildings were “strictly as a precautionary measure,” and he reiterated that the incident was very short lived.

University officials had warned students and faculty members to avoid the area between Warhawk Drive and Starin Road as crews worked to fix the leak.

Starin Road and Prairie Street were closed briefly but are now cleared for through traffic. UW-W Police Services officers are currently directing traffic in the area, a spokeswoman said.

–Brad Allen, Managing Editor