NORTH ADAMS -- A ruptured gas line prompted the evacuation of roughly 400 people from several buildings on the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts campus and private residences in the area early Thursday afternoon.
North Adams Fire Director Stephen Meranti said that shortly after 1 p.m., the department received a call from a detail police officer saying a contractor working for MCLA had struck a gas line on Blackinton Street.
"When we arrived on scene, there was a heavy odor," he said. "We contacted MCLA police immediately and ordered an immediate evacuation of the area."
MCLA Director of Marketing and Communications Bernadette Lupo said the evacuation included college-owned buildings on Porter Street, the Wellness Center, Mark Hopkins Hall, Freel Library, the president's building on Blackinton Street and the residential building Berkshire Towers.
Students in the evacuated buildings on campus were directed to the Amsler Campus Center, Lupo said.
The Center for Science and Innovation construction site was shut down and all of the workers were evacuated, Meranti said. The privately owned Boardman block of apartments on Montana Street was also evacuated, he added.
"As soon as Berkshire Gas arrived on scene to shut the gas off, we started monitoring the buildings," Meranti said. "We had no readings in any of the buildings in the area."
The occupants of the area were allowed to re-enter the buildings shortly before 2 p.m., he said, and there were no injuries reported.
"It was a very orderly evacuation of the college property," Meranti said. "They just went through a table-top [emergency] exercise yesterday. Everyone worked very well together."
A emergency shelter was set up at the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish Center on Marshall Street for evacuees, Meranti said, in the event occupants couldn't return to their homes.
The North Adams Police Department, North Adams Fire Department and North Adams Ambulance Service responded to the scene. The evacuation led to traffic being detoured around Church and Blackinton streets by police.
A section of Blackinton Street was to remain closed for part of the afternoon, Meranti said, while crews repair the gas line.
To reach Edward Damon, email