4,800 homes evacuated as rail car burns
A tanker car of propane burns Tuesday in Lincoln, California.
August 24th, 2011
08:40 AM ET

4,800 homes evacuated as rail car burns

More than 4,800 families were out of their homes in Lincoln, California, on Wednesday morning as a railroad tank car loaded with propane burned nearby.

The tank car, loaded with about 29,000 gallons of propane, caught fire around noon Tuesday.

Firefighters were spraying the tank car with water to keep it cool but letting the propane burn off, Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said. Extinguishing the fire could allow a propane gas cloud to form that could cause further damage if it ignited, he said.

About 4,800 homes within a one-mile radius of the burning tank car were evacuated, Berlant said. Businesses within that radius were also closed, he said.

"The fire continues to burn. We're keeping it (the tank car) cool to keep the pressure as low as possible" to prevent an explosion, Berlant said.

The length of the evacuation depends on how long it takes for the propane to burn off, he said.

Berlant said the rail car had not derailed. It was sitting on a side track in a propane facility and was not connected to any other cars, he said.

The cause of the fire had not been determined, Berlant said.

Lincoln is in Placer County, California, north of Sacramento.

Read local coverage from CNN affiliate KXTV-TV.

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Filed under: California
soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. HankHill

    What brand of propane is that? Gotta get me some.

    August 24, 2011 at 8:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Evac'd

      HankHill, glad that this is a laughing matter to you. I'm guessing you arent one of the families that had to evac and are now without a home to go to. For those of us that had to evac, we dont find it so funny...

      August 24, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Booger

      HankHill, that is LOL funny. Evac'd should chill. Crying about it ain't gonna help!

      August 24, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Snoot

      It's the "boogers" of the world who whine the loudest and the longest when faced with any semblance of adversity themselves.

      August 24, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. George

    This is clearly an act of terrorism and Homeland Security needs to investigate. There were warnings about the use of propane as a weapon. Where was the security around this depot? Who failed? Heads must roll.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Ez

      I agree! Off with everyone's head! We must not have any security lapses and those who fail should go to the guillotine! Wait, do we still use those? Wait!!! Damn, firing squad then?? No?? Damn!! How can we maintain order without a firing squad!!!!

      August 24, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Calm down George. This is called a BLEVE. They're not all that uncommon. There was one in Nebraska in 2009, and they had to evacuate half of a 25,000+ population town. Thankfully, the fire fighters were able to put the flames out without an explosion. Hope the outcome on this one is as successful.

      August 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. wrong

    WRONG – This is clearly Obama's fault, he should have created more jobs for inspectors to keep these tanks safe.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Hoof

      HAHAHA well played

      August 24, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • db

      Not according to Obama, it is his recollection that the root of the problem is Bush, the Republicans and Teaparty! Bonner just set if off with his hot air talk.

      August 24, 2011 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. MSB

    Want smaller goverment – deal with the consequences.

    August 24, 2011 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
    • shmeckell

      Yeah, cause LP gas becomes nonflammable with a bigger government.

      August 24, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
  5. dynan3

    Having been trained on these type of fires, the fire engine SHOULD NOT be in line with the end of the tank car. If a bleve (Boiling Liquid / Expanding Vapor Explosion) should occur, the firetruck and anyone in or around it would be in great peril, to say the least. A bleve could shoot the ends of the tank away like a rather learge bullet, following the linear lines of force. This is unlikely since the fire in not impinging on the tank, at the moment, but still could occur with heat failure of the tank car. The spray hoses could remain there, but move the truck. The photog should be aware that he was directly in the 'line of fire' of a weapon bigger than anything we sent to Iraq...apply for hazardous duty pay...

    August 24, 2011 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Duh

      sorry, but being that close to any part of it and it bleves your dead, end or not.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • dynan3

      Thought you woulda known that...the picture on my screen is close enough for me.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      The telephoto picture could have flattened the image to make it look like they are inline with each other.

      August 24, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • LouAz

      The Hoop Stress is twice the axial stress in a pressurized cylinder. If the tank "breaks" from excessive internal pressure, it will develope a long crack along the side of the tank car (parallel to the railroad tracks). The end is not the danger. The Firetruck is parked in the safest spot.
      Where is John Wayne as Red Adair when you need him ?

      August 24, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • dynan3

      And when the hoop stress lays the tank open (imagine unrolling a roll of candy from the middle) the ends are free to travel...great distances with great force.

      August 24, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • dynan3

      Check this out for any obvious metal ends flying: ht tp:/ /ww w.you tube.c om/watch?v=_Tr3iZz_ugA
      (Remove the spaces)
      Only 14 seconds long

      August 24, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • One of the evac'd

      The firehoses are currently umanned. There are no persons within a 1 mile radius of the tanker car.

      August 24, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      The blast radius from a full tanker of propane that undergoes a BLEVE would be somewhere in the 1/2 to 1 mile radius. So yeah, if the fire truck is in the freaking picture it's not in a safe spot.

      August 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. dynan3

    And get the name of the tech who last checked the relief valve...

    There should be a block valve beneath the relief valve that can be closed to stop the leak and kill the fire. Relief valve replaced, and block valve opened. Then the tank can be pumped into propane truck(s). This would ot only save thousands in propand, water, fire company expense, it would allow these nice people to return home.

    August 24, 2011 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • dynan3

      *Not & *propane

      August 24, 2011 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
    • tdave

      Puhleez. I've had the same sort of training, but I'm inclined to STFU unless I'm on the scene. CalFire generally know what they are doing.

      August 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOPA

      unless the relief valve is improperly sized or defective, a continuous leak and fire should not be occurring at that location. If the car is experiencing overpressure, the relief should periodically burp and then reseal (unless its some sort of rupture disk type relief). If the pressure is great enough to keep the relief open continuously, then the car will probably explode (BLEVE) because it isn't able to shed heat and pressure. Without more information, I would guess that the continuous leak is from a regular valve that failed open. Keeping water on the tanker should help to maintain structural integrity of the car and hopefully avoid a BLEVE.

      August 24, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jmon

    They need Denzel to save the day...

    August 24, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. pilzer

    Well Yeee Haw Hank Hill! Lets get us some New Yorks, Rib Eyes, and some burgers for the kids! Its the world's largest propane BBQ grill! Texas style! Why in California thou?

    August 24, 2011 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. LouAz

    Gas "cloud" ? Propane is heavier than air. It sinks to the ground and would pool and eventually dissipate. That "pool" would of course be dangerous and could explode. All combustables have a fuel / air ratio that they will burn in. Too rich or too lean and it will not burn. Just letting it burn off as it squirts out of the tank is the right thing to do, but the "gas cloud" reasoning (?) is not applicable to propane.

    August 24, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  10. me

    idiot, blah blah blah blah blah blah, trained, blah blah blah!

    August 24, 2011 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • dynan3

      Trained Troll...stay in mom's basement.

      August 24, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  11. Bear

    It's great idiot's can read

    August 24, 2011 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Sara

      But they still haven't learned the proper use of apostrophes!

      August 24, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bern

    President Obama has been blamed for "everything" from the day he took office. The fool who makes those statements can't even validate them. So if your tooth fell out you'd blame that on President Obama too? The problem is YOU for doing nothing BUT passing blame.

    August 24, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  13. MrSarcasm

    We are on the border of Rocklin (California) and Lincoln (California).

    Lincoln was CRUSHED with the economic downturn and the colapse of the housing market. The hardest hit area in our section of Nothern California.

    There are some streets with over 60% foreclosure rates.

    Those families evacuated from the 1 mile radius should have plenty of bank owned empty homes to squat in.

    August 24, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. OldGoat

    I have gas problems like that all the time. Don't need to call the fire department though.

    August 24, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  15. Hank Hill

    MY PROPANE!!

    August 24, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • strkland

      AND THE PROPANE ACCESSORIES!!!

      August 24, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
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