Tahoe-Truckee residents urged to clear propane tanks of snow | SierraSun.com

Tahoe-Truckee residents urged to clear propane tanks of snow

Staff report

Snow loads are getting heavy on top of buildings in the region, as seen here Wednesday at the Sierra Sun's office in Truckee.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Placer County is warning Tahoe-area business and home-owners of the "extreme" danger mounting snow loads may have on buildings and propane tanks in the region.

Below is a press release from the county issued Wednesday with more information on the issue and tips on how to be prepared.

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With more than 20 feet of snow in some areas of eastern Placer County in recent weeks, snow loads on residential propane tanks are extreme — and pose a risk of leaks and possible explosion.

In 2011, when similar snow loads were a concern, propane leaks in the Serene Lakes area were widespread, triggering evacuations and the disconnection of power to homes. One leak caused an explosion that completely destroyed a home.

"Snow loads on roofs and decks are a problem throughout the Sierra right now, and everyone should take care to clear those. But the loads on propane tanks are an especially serious concern," said Placer County Office of Emergency Services Manager John McEldowney. "Residents should dig out and inspect their tanks as soon as they possibly can and call 911 if they smell any gas at all."

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In cooperation with local fire districts, Placer County has issued an emergency alert for the greater North Lake Tahoe area west to Cisco Grove using the Placer Alert system to warn residents of the risk and urge quick action to remove snow from tanks, gas lines and regulators.

Access to all types of propane tanks should be cleared, including underground, sheltered and stand-alone tanks. Residents should contact the Placer County Department of Environmental Health office in Tahoe City at 530-581-6240 before digging into the ground.

Residents with questions about safely clearing or de-icing any of their tank components should contact their propane provider.

Placer County encourages all residents to sign up for the Placer Alert emergency alert system to receive the fastest possible notification of dangers near the places they care about — by text, email or phone. Sign up at http://www.placer-alert.org.

Heavy snow danger signs

The Building Services Division of the Placer County Community Development Resource Agency says potential heavy snow danger signs include:

  • Visual deformation or sagging of beams and other parts of a building’s structural support system,
  • Newly developed cracks, particularly any which appear above windows or doors and where beams and other support structures are located. Minor cracks that expand or contract could be indications of building movement,
  • Doors and windows that suddenly become significantly harder to open or do not open at all, a sign that a building is potentially settling,
  • Water leakages inside buildings,
  • Recent buckling of interior or exterior siding and finishes, which may be a symptom of settling; and
  • Sprinkler heads being pushed down below ceiling levels.