Propane tanker rolls over; closes Highway 525 and Freeland businesses

FREELAND – A propane tank trailer flipped over in Freeland Friday afternoon, causing a shutdown of Highway 525 and the evacuation of people within a 1/3-mile circle.

The Island County Sheriff’s Office and Fire District 3 blocked Highway 525 from Cameron Road to South Harbor Avenue, as well as the entrances onto the highway from nearby sideroads. Local businesses such as the Shell Station, Short Stop Texaco, Gay 90’s Pizza, Island Athletic Club and Houdini’s were all evacuated at around 7:30 p.m. and remained closed until after 9 p.m.

The driver of the Turner Gas Company propane rig and towed-trailer had pulled into a muddy parking lot next to B&W Pump off Highway 525 around 3 p.m. Friday and lowered the trailer stanchions prior to pulling away with the rig.

Within a few moments, the soft earth beneath one of the stanchions gave way and the full trailer containing 9,000 gallons of liquid propane rolled over.

Fortunately, the trailer rolled to the side where there were no pipes, a B&W Pump official said.

“We all walked over to see what was going on. We didn’t hear any leaking or smell anything,” said B&W Pump owner Terry Lehman.

“It fell over on the driver’s side and all the piping is on the passenger side. That was all sticking up in the air. We could easily tell that nothing was leaking,” he said.

Because the trailer posed no immediate threat, Turner Gas Company officials had time to plan for getting the trailer back up on its wheels.

The propane was then pumped into another truck and the scene cleared before the highway reopened.

“They hooked valves up to another tanker truck and pumped air into the other trailer to force the propane out into the other tanker,” Sheriff Mark Brown said.

Emergency crews swarmed the area to handle the overturned tanker.

“We have three engines, three tenders and 14 to 16 people here,” said Fire District 3 deputy chief Paul Busch. “This is a precautionary response.”

“I think it was 9 p.m. when they lifted the tank and set it upright,” Lehman said.

“It definitely was not the right time (for a propane incident) because it was Friday night. All the businesses were up and going and it had to have had an effect on them,” he said.

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