UPDATE - Sunday, March 16, 11:10 a.m.

After Missoula Alliance Church was evacuated at about 10:20 a.m., a technician from Northwestern Energy said methane gas had built up under a seldom used the mechanical room.

Jerry McConnell, a church leader, said the Northwestern Energy truck arrived within 10 minutes of his call, and quickly determined that the main boiler was secure and not the source of the leak. Once the methane gas source was located, the technician said just a few buckets of water every few weeks down a nearby drain would help to eliminate the gas.



At about 10:20 a.m. on Sunday, March 16, Jerry McConnell walked into the adult class at Missoula Alliance Church and announced there was a gas leak in the building, and everyone must evacuate.

At once, several hundred parishioners gathered their children, their Bibles and Sunday School materials and headed for the exits.

Just as the cars were streaming out of the parking lot, a Northwestern Energy truck was pulling in. McConnell and other church officials urged people not to loiter outside the church, but to vacate the area completely.

Earlier this week, a gas leak led to an explosion that killed at least eight people in New York City, so church officials were not taking any chances.

KGVO News will provide updates as they become available.