Propane tanker crashes

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 10, 2003

Suffolk Police and other public safety personnel put to good use the city’s new &uot;Reverse 911 Communications System&uot; on Monday when a tractor/trailer carrying 9,200 gallons of liquid propane came to a screeching halt on its side.

The accident took place around 3:30 p.m., at Exit 9A on Interstate 664, near the Harborview area in the northern end of Suffolk.

The tanker, owned by Keenan Transport, overturned blocking the exit ramp, but did not spill its contents. Only one gallon each of fuel and hydraulic fluid leaked from the truck’s body.


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The driver, identity unknown, was not injured and details on the cause of the accident were unavailable late Monday night.

Haz-Mat teams were immediately summoned to the scene and public safety personnel blocked off the highway for a quarter-mile radius around the accident. The officers working the accident requested Porta-Johns in preparation for a long night of clean-up at the accident.

Around 4:35 p.m., one official ordered his men back from the scene. He told his men to keep a close watch &uot;with binoculars&uot; in case of sparks from the tanker.

He added that if a spark was observed, a minimum number of personnel would be sent in to contain it.

&uot;I want a set of eyes on them (personnel) at all times while they watch that unit,&uot; he added.

According to Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Judkins, the tanker would require several hours of work to remove it from the highway. However, the 9,200 gallons of propane would have to be offloaded; pumped from the body of that vehicle into another to safely remove it and haul it away.

At 7:25, the order was given out that meals should be taken by personnel working the accident as soon as possible.

&uot;Once we start this offloading operation, things are going to tense up,&uot; said one of the officers.

At 6 p.m., the order was given to initiate the 911 Reverse calls to residents around the site of the accident. It would alert them to stay away from the area around the site.

The 911 Reverse Calls are new at the police department’s communications bureau, although they have been in the works for almost two years.

Simpkins explained that with any situation including something as serious as this potential hazard, a lost child, or a felon being sought in a particular area, the communications bureau sends out the calls alerting residents in a given area.

According to Simpkins, the calls were working this weekend alerting people about &uot;scam artists&uot; now working in Suffolk. It seems they are preying particularly on senior citizens in need of home repairs.

&uot;As soon as the weather starts getting nice, you can watch for them to start with the scams,&uot; said Simpkins.

&uot;They recently intimidated one elderly lady into spending $8,000 on a roofing job that probably would have cost less than half that if done by a legitimate contractor.&uot;

The victim reported to police that she had been intimidated by the people who told her they would do the work.

They gave her the price of the job, and then returned several days later to request $3,000 in &uot;up-front&uot; money.

When she refused to pay, they told her they would call police to say she’d reneged on a contract if she didn’t pay up.

Police are investigating that incident.

As Simpkins said, no legitimate contractor would ask for money before completing the job, and anyone who suspects that someone is not actually a licensed workman should call police immediately at 925-2350.