Serene Lakes propane incident: Agencies put finishing touches on clean-up operations
SODA SPRINGS, Calif. and#8212; The four-month saga involving multiple leaking propane tanks and#8212; some of which resulted in home explosions and#8212; in the Serene Lakes neighborhood near Donner Summit has been officially closed by regional fire, environmental and law enforcement agencies.
While the Placer County Board of Supervisors brought the state of local emergency to a close on June 7, officials from Truckee Fire Protection District, Placer County Sheriffand#8217;s Office and Placer County Division of Environmental Health continued the final clean-up until the end of June, said Robert Miller, Placer County spokesman.
The leaks began in March as a result of faulty pipes and valves that connected tanks to household heating systems malfunctioning as a result of heavy snowloads exerting pressure on the equipment. The situation turned serious one Friday, April 8, when an unoccupied three-story cabin in the Serene Lakes area exploded when propane leaking from the houseand#8217;s tank ignited. No one was hurt.
Clean-up is finally complete, said Jill Pahl, Placer County environmental health director, aside from the possibility of propane remaining underneath a few leftover snow banks.
and#8220;Believe it or not thereand#8217;s still snow up there,and#8221; said Pahl, who added no lasting environmental repercussions will affect the area, as propane generally dissipates in the air once released.
About 43 houses were affected. At numerous times over the four-month period, and for varying lengths of time, entry into residences was prohibited, according to published reports. Road closures affected travel and a voluntary evacuation order was in effect, Miller said, and utility services in the community were also interrupted.
Jennifer Montgomery, Placer County supervisor, whose fifth district encompasses the stricken area, praised the work of the various agencies that collaborated to address the situation.
and#8220;Iand#8217;m deeply indebted to Truckee Fire, the Sheriffand#8217;s Office, Environmental Health and all the other public and private groups and individuals who helped to get us through this situation of leaking propane systems,and#8221; she said. and#8220;The coordination and communication between all these entities was outstanding and truly helped to make a bad situation better.and#8221;
Pahl said the county will work with residents and propane service providers to ensure all the equipment is in conformance with county code. Anyone smelling the odor of propane should leave the area immediately and dial 9-1-1.
Miller said the county is working in conjunction with Truckee Fire and North Tahoe Fire Protection District in developing an information sheet on safe propane system installations and propane safety in communities about 5,000 feet in elevation. The information will be available this summer.
Additional leaks will be handled as separate incidents by Truckee Fire.