Students and staff were briefly evacuated from SRU Elementary School in East Smithfield Thursday afternoon after staff members detected possible gas odors coming from the building, Athens Area School District officials said.

Employees of the school alerted SRU principal Andrew Latchford Thursday to possible odors similar to propane inside the building, said AASD superintendent Diane Place. Officials contacted the Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department to check out the building, although no propane is in the building and all gas lines leading to the school are turned off, Place said.

SRU students and staff were evacuated at about 12:25 p.m. to two churches in East Smithfield in keeping with the school's evacuation plan, Place said. The group was split between the two buildings because no building in East Smithfield can fit SRU's approximately 400 students in kindergarten through fifth grades, Place said.

Firefighters checked the building with a sensor and found no gases or fumes, Place said. Students and staff were cleared to return to the building at about 1 p.m., she said.

The school sent a call to all parents of SRU students Thursday afternoon regarding the evacuation, Place said.

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: