Fire from propane truck crash finally out

Liz Evans Scolforo, David Weissman, and Christopher Dornblaser
York Dispatch

The long-burning fire from an overturned propane truck in Jackson Township was declared out Thursday morning, nearly a full day after it began.

Mike Fetrow, York County's director of Emergency Management, said the fire was officially ruled out about 7:20 a.m.

Residents within a quarter-mile of the blaze were evacuated, according to a York County 911 Center supervisor. The majority of them were allowed to return home by about 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Northern York County Regional Police said the driver of the truck suffered minor injuries.

Fire and rescue crews were called to the area of South Lake and Jackson Square roads about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. A short time later, hazardous materials teams were summoned there, according to the Southern Pa. Incident Network (SPIN).

Fire crews and hazmat response team members work to contain a propane truck fire after the vehicle went over a guard rail on South Lake Road in Jackson Township, , Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The truck was carrying 2,400 gallons of propane, a fire official at the scene advised crews over his radio.

Jackson Township fire officials could not be reached Thursday morning regarding any special measures to clean up the wooded area where the truck crashed.

The driver was still trapped in the truck when emergency crews arrived, according to SPIN, which reported the driver was flown from the scene to York Hospital by medical helicopter.

Response: Radio transmissions indicated crews must let the fire burn, but they cannot let the truck become overheated or they will risk an explosion.

Numerous firefighters and equipment from companies and departments around York County were on the scene throughout the day Wednesday.

Authorities warned people to avoid the area.

Fire crews and hazmat response team work to contain a propane tank fire after it went over a guard rail on South Lake Road in Jackson Township, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Ray Kinsey, chief of the York County Hazardous Materials Response Team, said the truck was going around a corner when it crashed through a guard rail and flipped on its side.

Officials launched a drone to hover over the truck in order to help find where the truck was leaking propane, according to Kinsey.

In all, about 20 nearby homes were evacuated, Kinsey said, and residents were directed to nearby Lincoln Fire Co. building on Route 30.

Allen White, disaster program specialist for the Red Cross of Central Pennsylvania, said they had set up a comfort station for those evacuated, but about 7 p.m., he said they were shutting down the station because the fire department had told the majority of residents they could go back home.

White said one of the main reasons the Red Cross was there was to assist the first responders by providing food and water.

“We have been engaged with canteening since about 11:30 this morning,” he said Wednesday evening. The comfort station opened about 3 p.m.

Fire crews and hazmat response team work to contain a propane tank fire after it went over a guard rail on South Lake Road in Jackson Township, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Despite the comfort station being shut down, White said the Red Cross remained at the fire department for the small number of people still not allowed in their homes. Lincoln Fire Co. Deputy Fire Chief Tom Fuhrman said Wednesday evening that whether people were allowed to return home depended on their proximity to the fire.

Evacuation: Vonnie Heaver, who lives about a quarter-mile from the crash, was the first evacuee there because she's a member of the the fire company and was told to help get things ready for other evacuees.

Heaver said she didn't see or hear anything when the crash occurred, but she saw "a parade" of ambulances and fire trucks drive by her house en route to the scene. She also received a call from her son, who told her it was a propane truck crash and to "get the heck out of there."

Heaver, who is retired, said the majority of her neighbors work during the day, and she didn't expect many people to show up at the comfort station until later.

Billy Jo Haggerty was Heaver's first neighbor to arrive at the fire hall. Haggerty said she'd been out grocery shopping when the crash occurred and was directed to Lincoln Fire Co. when she tried to reach her house.

Heaver allowed Haggerty to store her groceries in the fire company's refrigerator and freezer.

Lisa Smith, spokeswoman for the Spring Grove Area School District, said the district's schools weren't affected by the truck fire and added that all the schools are outside the quarter-mile evacuation zone.