Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fears for thousands of California homes as 30,000-gallon fuel carriage catches fire at railway depot in suburbs - 24th Aug 2011

Thousands of northern California homes are at risk as firefighters battle to stop a burning rail car loaded with nearly 30,000 gallons of liquid propane from exploding.

The fuel tanker caught fire yesterday at about midday at a Northern Propane Energy yard in Lincoln, a city of 40,000 north of Sacramento.

About 4,800 homes have been emptied around a one mile radius of the fire, and the American Red Cross has set up evacuation centres for fleeing residents.

Firefighters have set up four fixed hoses to soak the tanker to in an attempt to keep its temperature down and prevent an explosion as the propane burns off.

At the moment the gas is burning off as it exits the 29,000-gallon tanker through a vent. Any attempt to extinguish the flames directly runs the risk of creating a gas cloud that could ignite into a massive fireball, fire officials warned.

Highways have been shut, businesses closed and the area's schools will miss the first day of term because of the continuing danger, said the Lincoln Fire Department.

The Placer County Sheriff's Department activated reverse 911 calls to residents to evacuate the area under threat, KXTV-TV reported.

Officials told Lincoln resident Roza Calderon that it could be anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks before she could return home.

'They said they would let us know tomorrow,' the 26-year-old accountant said late last night. 'In the meantime I think we're just going to be staying in a hotel.' Read More