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Gas forces evacuation of Hurricane Middle School

HURRICANE, W.Va. -- Hurricane Middle School dismissed students at 12:30 Thursday afternoon because of a natural gas leak. The road in front of the school was closed for about two hours.

Students are to report to school on Friday as usual, according to Brad Hodges, assistant superintendent of administrative services for Putnam County Schools.

Frontier Communications crews were digging in front of the school and hit a gas line, Hodges said.

Students were evacuated around 11:30 a.m. and W.Va. 34 between Dudding Avenue and Ada Dell Avenue was closed.

"Mountaineer Gas has been through the building and it's safe," Hodges said later Thursday.

While diverting traffic, Rainey Beller, a crew supervisor with the West Virginia Division of Highways, was struck by a pickup at the intersection of W.Va. 34 and Main Street. He was transported to Thomas Memorial Hospital, 911 dispatchers said. Brent Walker, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said Beller, who has worked for the DOH for 17 years, might stay overnight at the hospital.

"He's battered and bruised," Walker said. He noted that Beller had been at an employee-appreciation luncheon when he got the call to handle the traffic situation on W.Va. 34.

"We're pleased that he escaped serious injury."

Hurricane police said no charges were filed against the driver of the truck.

"It wasn't going very fast," he said, "but it was enough to knock him over."

The man said he had not seen Beller in the roadway.

Reach Kate White at or 304-348-1723.


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