By Hallie McCurdy
On Tuesday morning, June 10, firefighters responded to a propane leak at the Lakewood Industrial Park. Engine 21 arrived to find a large concrete tilt up warehouse (400×230) with nothing visible. Upon further investigation, firefighters found a 500-gallon propane tank venting its contents. A valve had been broken off when several pallets fell off a forklift next to the tank. The tank was located on the side of the building in the area of the loading docks.
Engine 21 along with Engine 20 established a water supply and set up a ground monitor to place water on the vapor cloud. We found out the tank still had about 250-300 gallons of liquid propane left in it. The tank was venting liquid, which upon reaching the outside was turning into gas at a dangerous rate.
In the mean time, in conjunction with Lakewood Police, a hot zone was set up and evacuated everyone within it. Lakewood Police continued to monitor security of the perimeter. It was determined from a computer based “plume” model that a daycare located down wind from the incident at Clover Park Technical College be evacuated. Clover Park security along with Lakewood Police moved the children to a safe location. A unified command was established with Lakewood Police and Fire Departments; we also had representatives from the Industrial Park, the warehouse involved and the Farrell Gas Company. The representative from the industrial park turned on the water system pumps and was able to contact the railroad and make sure no trains came through as Lakewood Fire hose line crossed the tracks.
Once the contents of the tank had emptied, and with expert advice from the Farrell Gas Co representative, firefighters conducted air monitoring around the tank. The LEL was determined to be at a safe level and the gas company representative evaluated the tank and ultimately sealed it. The seal was nothing more than a piece of rubber and a large strap that went around the tank and put pressure on the patch.
The warehouse, daycare center, and the conference hall were all monitored for LEL and finding none, the occupants were allowed back in these buildings.