Car hits propane tank, prompts evacuation

April 14, 2003 11:00 pm

By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER

A car left Middle Camp Road near Twain Harte yesterday afternoon and hit a household propane tank, causing a 30-gallon gas leak and forcing evacuation of about 15 homes.

Michelle Fernandez, 19, of Mi-Wuk Village, was driving west near Lakewood Drive when she rounded a downhill curve. Her tires lost traction on the slippery pavement and her car slid across the eastbound lane and off the road, California Highway Patrol Officer Tom Wills said.

The sedan hit the 288-gallon tank at about 2 p.m., Wills said.

No injuries were reported.

The tank belongs to J.S. West Propane of Sonora. About 30 gallons leaked — enough for the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department to ask for evacuation of 10 to 15 houses in the neighborhood until the gas dispersed.

"Everyone was very cooperative. There were no problems with the evacuation," said Sheriff's Sgt. Matt Zelinsky.

The voluntary evacuation lasted until 4 p.m. Residents who did not leave were told not to use power or light any fires.

Sheriff's officials also shut off power to the homes.

CHP, Tuolumne County Sheriff's Department, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Tuolumne County Fire Department, Twain Harte Community Services District Fire Department, Mi-Wuk-Sugar Pine Fire Protection District and Tuolumne County Environmental Health Department responded.

The accident is still under investigation, and the CHP had not decided whether to cite Fernandez.

Contact Genevieve Bookwalter at gbookwalter@ uniondemocrat.com.