Northwood High evacuates following gas main breach, expects to reopen Thursday

A ruptured natural gas main on Portola Parkway prompted the precautionary evacuation of Northwood High School Wednesday afternoon, though the school expected to reopen Thursday morning.

Initiated at the direction the Orange County Fire Authority, the action was taken at about noon out of an abundance of caution, school officials said. No students were harmed.

Northwood students with vehicles were released to their cars, according to Principal Leslie Roach, and the others were escorted off campus around the back of Orchard Hills. Those on foot waited to be picked up at the Orchard Hills Shopping Center at Culver Drive at Portola Parkway. Roach said Northwood’s staff and school resource officers assisted with the evacuation.

Nearby Canyon View Elementary was not directed to evacuate by authorities but the school did initiate soft-lockdown procedures. The Irvine Police Department later helped orchestrate an efficient dismissal, Canyon View Principal Susan Kemp said.

The gas main was apparently ruptured around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday as a result of road construction on Portola Parkway, which was ultimately closed between Culver Drive and Orchard Hills.

The closure was expected to last until about 7 p.m. Wednesday. As a result, Northwood’s preview performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was canceled, and an Elementary Honors Choir rehearsal was moved from Northwood to Oak Creek Elementary School, located at 1 Dove Creek in Irvine. The rehearsal time remained the same, from 6:30 to 8:15 p.m.