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Propane leak shuts down German street

By Staff | Feb 7, 2010

Downtown Shepherdstown was shut down by a propane leak at the Yellow Brick Bank restaurant on Sunday afternoon.

Emergency units restricted traffic in a one block area around the intersection of German and Princess streets in downtown Shepherdstown as they responded to a propane leak at the Yellow Brick Bank restaurant earlier today.

Police and rescue officials blocked off German Street between King and Mill streets and Princess Street between New and High streets. Traffic was routed around the scene through residential roads. Officials on the scene estimated that the intersection would remain closed until at least 4:30 p.m.

Residents living in the immediate vicinity of the Yellow Brick Bank had been evacuated immediately following the leak, but by 3:30 p.m., some had begun to return to their homes

According to Shepherdstown Volunteer Fired Departent Emergency Services Captain Paul Burner, emergency units responded to the Yellow Brick Bank around 1:40 p.m. on Sunday after a white, plow equipped Dodge Ram 2800 pickup truck sheared the valve off of the restaurant’s 1,000 gallon propane tank. The truck was pulled off the damaged valve at 3:42 p.m.

Capt. Burner said that emergency personnel used extreme caution when working around the site of the accident, fearing that a small spark could ignite any gas remaining in the tank. Radios and other electric devices could not be used near the damaged valve, a non-metal tow-strap was used to pull the truck off the valve, which was itself swabbed in a non-metal insulating fabric.

Members of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the West Virginia Air National Guard participated in the response.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, propane could be smelled in the air downwind of the Yellow Brick Bank as far west as Mill Street and a loud rushing hiss of escaping gas could be heard. Even as the hiss subsided, officials on the scene with Roach Oil and Gas told emergency workers that the tank could still have been as much as half filled, the valve plugged by a block of condensed gas, frozen as it escaped into the frigid air.

Jefferson County Emergency Services Agency Director Doug Pittinger says that the site could be active for several more hours as crews with the gas company repair the damaged propane valve.

Responding to the scene were units from the West Virginia Air National Guard, Shepherd University Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Boonsboro Fire Department and the Shepherdstown Police Department and Roach Oil and Gas.

First posted around 2:40 p.m, Sunday, updated around 4:16 p.m. to reflect current situation and correct description of vehicle involved in accident. Update 7 p.m. to reflect current situation.