Gas leak closes NC 11

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 24, 2006

AHOSKIE – A leaking propane tank on the side of a busy road caused a few anxious moments here yesterday (Friday) morning.

Chuck Munford, Assistant Chief of the Ahoskie Rural Fire Department, ordered a portion of NC 11 closed to all traffic shortly before noon on Friday while firefighters, dressed in full turnout gear, worked to stop the leaking gas.

An area of NC 11 between its inter with NC 561 and the Modlin Road was closed for approximately 25 minutes. Traffic was rerouted by Ahoskie firemen and a North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper.

“We decided it was better to be safe than sorry,” Munford said. “It was an old propane tank that was nearly empty, but we treated this as though the tank was fully loaded with propane.”

He continued, “Upon our arrival, there was a heavy smell of gas in the air and we felt it wouldn’t take much of a spark or even a motorist flipping a cigarette butt out the window to cause the tank to explode. Our main concern was the safety of the motoring public.”

According to Munford, Jimmy Belch, a local resident, was operating a private vehicle that was towing a trailer on which the propane tank was positioned. Apparently, an unexpected shift by the tank caused it to strike a rail on the trailer. That contact forced the tank’s hand valve to open, thus causing the leak.

Members of Ahoskie Rural and Ahoskie City fire departments were able to quickly shut-off the source of the leaking gas and the road was reopened to traffic.