Union Gas work done at Walker

While it’s not yet known exactly when students will be able to return to J.W. Walker School, the site around last week’s explosion and fire there is returning closer to normal each day.
Union Gas crews wrapped up their work at the site yesterday, Andrea Stass, the company’s manager of public affairs, said this morning.
“I think, from our perspective, the work is done. We were conducting our final clean-up yesterday,” she noted.
“Where it goes now is the Fire Marshal will have that section of pipe and conduct an investigation into the cause [of the damage to the natural gas pipeline], and we will co-operate with them into the investigation,” added Stass.
Stass noted the Union Gas workers’ job began early last Thursday as they sought out the source of the leak and devised a repair plan.
They safely stopped the gas leak and completed temporary repairs to the pipeline on Friday. Union Gas crews then completed the permanent repairs Saturday, with gas flowing through the main line by the late afternoon.
The temporary repair then was decommissioned.
Crews remained on site through yesterday to clean up.
As previously reported, the ignition source for the gas leak, which caused the early-morning explosion and subsequent fire at J.W. Walker, remains under investigation.
Police were contacted at 10:58 p.m. last Wednesday by Union Gas to conduct traffic control at the Keating Avenue and King’s Highway area due to a suspected gas odour.
Then at 12:44 a.m., there was an explosion at J.W. Walker that resulted in the fire.
Several west-end schools and businesses were closed, and about 150 residents evacuated due to the potential danger of the gas leak.
After the fire at the school was extinguished, inspector Rolf Waffler of the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office in Thunder Bay came here Thursday afternoon to initiate his probe of the explosion.
He determined the cause of the explosion was a leak in a gas main. The natural gas was able to enter the school along a watermain, where it accumulated in the building.
The explosion happened in the boys’ change room by the gymnasium.
But the source of ignition has not yet been determined, and the investigation continues.
Waffler returned to Thunder Bay on Saturday, bringing with him evidence from the scene for further review.
J.W. Walker was returned to the control of the Rainy River District School Board late Friday.