THE BRONX - Students at Sharon Baptist Head Start school in the Bronx were evacuated Wednesday morning after reports of a gas leak.

Workers who opened the doors of the school, located at Bathgate Avenue and 178th Street, say they smelled strong gas fumes, prompting them to shut off the gas and lead some 180 students out of the building.

?Some of the staff took off their jackets to cover the kids because some kids were already here,? says Veronica Clarke O?Neal, whose goddaughter attends the school.

Fire Chief Brian Fink says it appears a corroded pipe in the school?s basement might have sprung a leak. However, Con Edison workers say the gas meter did not detect any leaks in the three-story building.

?With gas there's always [the] possibility of an explosion, but it never got to that point,? Fink says.

According to a Con Edison employee, the gas smell could have wafted from anywhere outside of the school, even from a passing car. Still, Con Ed and hazmat crews inspected pipes on every floor of the building.

After about 45 minutes, officials cleared the school and allowed students and teachers back inside.