Propane truck overturns in Terrebonne; leak prompts evacuation of 15 homes

(Update: details of leak stopped, residents return home)

He fell sideways with valves, so it took four hours to stop the leak; power outage, propane levels monitored

TERREBONNE, Pray. (KTVZ) – A propane delivery truck slid down an embankment and rolled to the side next to a house in a Terrebonne cul-de-sac Monday morning. A resulting propane leak led to the evacuation of 15 homes and a power outage until it stopped four hours later, an official said.

Redmond Fire & Rescue was called to the 100 block of Central Avenue around 11:30 a.m., Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Puller said.

The driver was uninjured, but the Ed Staub & Sons propane truck had drifted to the side where the truck’s valves are located, making the process to stop the leak longer, Puller said.

Pacific Power crews were called in to turn off the power and reduce the risk of explosion, he said. Deschutes County Public Works also attended the scene.

Propane is heavier than air, so unlike natural gas, it doesn’t rise into the atmosphere, but can instead go into low-lying areas like tight spaces and accumulate, Puller said.

Puller said they reached out to the regional hazmat team in Salem for guidance as they monitor and assess the leak.

Puller said Ed Staub employees stopped the leak at 3:45 p.m. and that the truck was back on its wheels and ready for the propane transfer about an hour later. Power was restored to the houses and evacuation orders were lifted around 5 p.m., he said. Homeowners who signed up for emergency alerts from Deschutes County were contacted to inform them that the evacuation had been lifted.

After the leak was stopped, fire crews were required to go inside and check the homes with gas monitors for clearance to make sure no propane had built up before power was restored. Otherwise, he said, if the pilot light on a water heater comes on, for example, it could cause an explosion.

On a very cold day, the evacuated residents were left with friends or family. Puller said officials were concerned for a time that the American Red Cross might have to house evacuees in a motel overnight, but the situation was resolved instead.

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