Matthew Renda and Jason Shueh
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March 30, 2011
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No updates Thursday in propane gas leak situation at Soda Springs

UPDATE: 5 p.m. Thursday, March 31

SODA SPRINGS, Calif. — Numerous phone calls to the cell phone and office of Placer County spokesman Robert Miller regarding numerous propane gas leaks near the Serene Lakes neighborhood went unreturned Thursday.

A phone call to Truckee Fire spokesman Gene Welch went unreturned as well; however, in a follow-up call with the fire district, a spokeswoman said she had heard no updates of the situation, detailed in the story below.

Air quality tests at the scene of numerous propane gas leaks near Donner Summit indicate a highly dangerous situation, emergency officials said Wednesday afternoon.

One test conducted Tuesday night in the area of the leaks — near the Serene Lakes neighborhood in Soda Springs — showed the air content was more than 100 percent in excess of the Lower Explosive Limit, which is the lowest amount of gas that will cause an explosion.

On Wednesday morning, another test showed air content to be about 30 percent in excess, said Rod Brock, a captain with Truckee Fire.

“It's overwhelming,” Brock said of the amount of gas in the area. “There's just too much.”

Earlier Wednesday, Robert Miller, a spokesman for Placer County, confirmed that at least five propane leaks had been reported near Serene Lakes, along with two others on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe. Heavy snow accumulations in the high Sierra led to damaged valves and pipelines on propane tanks, Miller said.

The known leaks have occurred on the following streets in Soda Springs: Palisade Road, Baxter Street, Spruce Road, Alpine Way and Tamarack Way.

Emergency crews do not know how much gas has leaked, Brock said. Crews are currently assessing the levels of explosive materials in the air and will proceed to digging operations after tests are complete.

There is no containment timeline, Brock said.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Truckee Fire spokesman Gene Welch said the situation is still far from contained, and fire crews will continue to monitor propane concentration in the air.

“If (the leaks) weren't dangerous, they (emergency crews) wouldn't be there, and at this time situation has yet to be mitigated,” Welch said.

The majority of homes affected by ongoing leaks are not primary residences of the owners, Brock said; thus, only one home has been evacuated. Officials are attempting to notify property owners about the unfolding situation.

Residents who smell gas in their house or neighborhood are urged to evacuate immediately and call 911, Miller said.

Stay tuned to for updates to this story as they develop.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Mar 31, 2011 08:03PM Published Mar 30, 2011 03:26PM Copyright 2011 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.