We received a phone call that the Escambia County Sheriff’s Administration building was being evacuated tonight. I called Commission Chairman Lumon May and he had not heard of any problems from county staff.
We did reach Sheriff David Morgan. He told the Independent News that the gas leak was a false alarm. Apparently the county facilities maintenance department and Pensacola Energy Services were on the roof of the building bleeding a gas line. No one at the ECSO was notified what they were doing. The natural gas came down the elevator shaft and was smelled by ECSO dispatch. They immediately reported the odor to the sheriff.
At the direction of the fire chief, Sheriff Morgan evacuated the building. When the fire chief and Chief Deputy Eric Haines surveyed the building, they found county and PES personnel on the roof, according to the sheriff. As soon as the fire chief was confident that there was no gas leak, ECSO personnel were allowed back into the building.
Escambia County has issued at 8:50 p.m. a press release on the incident that gave a more sanitized version of what happened:
Report of Natural Gas Smell Causes Temporary Evacuation of ESCO Admin Building
Thursday, May 22, 2014 – 7:30pm
This evening, Facilities staff from Escambia County were working with crews from Pensacola Energy and mechanical contractors to re-establish natural gas service to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office (ECSO) Administrative building, 1700 West Leonard Street.
Natural gas service to the ESCO building, which normally supports boilers for hot water and dehumidification systems, had previously run off the Escambia County Central Booking and Detention building prior to the explosion of April 30.
In reestablishing service, the systems were fully activated early this evening and a call was made that alerted emergency crews to a reported smell of natural gas. The Escambia County Public Safety Department responded and, after evaluating the situation with crews from Pensacola Energy, cleared the building. The building has since been determined to be safe. Escambia County Facilities staff, Pensacola Energy and contractors are now continuing work to restore natural gas service.