Residents evacuate for the night after crash

May 29, 2009 11:59:53 PM PDT
On Friday evening some people had to spend the night in a hotel. They were told to evacuate Friday morning due to a car and a gasoline tanker collision in San Ramon. Thousands of gallons of gas spilled into storm drains and made it to Dublin. Crews tried to mop up the mess all day, but their work had to continue through the night.

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The accident happened around 11 a.m. at a Chevron station on San Ramon Valley Boulevard.

There were no injuries in the accident, but the car, which became wedged underneath the truck, broke off a valve, spilling unleaded gasoline into the street.

The Dublin San Ramon Village Plaza, located across the street, and 33 nearby homes were evacuated. As a precaution, Dublin High School was also locked down.

There is also concern about the environmental impact of the fuel that ran into the storm drain, which terminates into the San Ramon Creek in Dublin. Public works crews dammed the creek Friday afternoon so they could remove flush out the storm drain and remove the gasoline and contaminated water.

Hazmat, public works, Department of Fish and Game and fire officials were on scene for most of the day. Yet, late into the night, safety officials were still not happy with the level of fumes they are picking up in the area. They say it was just too dangerous for people to sleep in their homes.

"I'm very tired, my back hurts, and I can't get in my house," said evacuated resident David Davis.

Streets were shut down, all events at Dublin High School were cancelled, and businesses at San Ramon Valley and Alcosta Boulevards were closed. The closures had a critical impact, considering the nearby gas station estimates that 25 percent of the week's business happens on a Friday.

"Huge day for us, for our industry, big day, yeah. We lost quite a bit of money," said Max Fattahins, a gas station owner.

It's all because a tanker truck and a car collided. The truck was trying to turn into a San Ramon gas station and the car was on the inside of that turn when the two collided. Gas started spilling from the tanker and 2,581 gallons escaped into the storm drain; witnesses say some of it even got on the driver.

"He was soaked in fuel so it was very fortunate he wasn't hurt," said Fattahins.

Emergency crews decided the way to clean the drain is to flush it with 30,000 gallons of water and then they vacuum it out at the other end. They decided to evacuate the homes around the slough, which frustrated some residents.

"If it was that big of a threat, they would have on respirators," said Davis.

However, some workers did wear protection and crews say they ordered the evacuations to protect the residents.

"We're in the flammable range. In other words, someone with a backyard BBQ could set the whole thing off," said San Ramon Valley Fire Div. Chief Derek Krause.

When resident wake up Saturday morning they can call the phone number below to find out if it is safe to return to their homes. The American Red Cross is at the Radisson Hotel in Dublin helping evacuees find a room.

Evacuation hotline for San Ramon residents to find out when they can return: (925) 833-6650

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