Autism Center Evacuated to Check for Gas Leak

Kids taken to nearby church after staff member smells natural gas


Strongsville firefighters evacuated the STEPS Center for Autism, 21337 Drake Rd., Monday morning after a staff member reported smelling natural gas.

The department arrived shortly before 9 a.m. and confirmed a faint smell of natural gas, then helped evacuate the children and staff from the building, according to Fire Chief Jeff Branic.

Fire officials were unable to pinpoint a leak, even using detection meters and called Columbia Gas.

Meanwhile, the department brought in a city-owned bus to shelter the special needs children from the cold and eventually transported the kids and staff to Pathway Church, which opened its doors to offer shelter. 

Columbian Gas technicians arrived about 9:30 a.m., but were also unable to locate any concentrations of natural gas.

The STEPS Center decided around 10 a.m. to close for the day and parents were contacted to pick up their children.

By 11:30 a.m., all Strongsville equipment and manpower was released from the incident and placed back in service. The building owner arrived on scene and brought in their HVAC technicians to isolate the problem and correct it, Branic said.      


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