Gas leak occurs in Oak Creek

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A leaky propane tank in Oak Creek resulted in the evacuation of one apartment complex Saturday night.

The gas could be smelled "clear down on Main Street," said Chuck Wisecup, district chief for the Oak Creek Fire Protection District.

But gas levels showed that only a small fraction of the amount of gas needed to create big explosions was present.

There were no injuries or fires, but one woman from a neighboring apartment building complained of nausea and was given oxygen, he said.

A family in the apartment complex at 219 S. Sharp St., also called the old hospital apartments, reported the smell of gas at about 11:35 p.m. The Oak Creek Police Department and firefighters responded. Wisecup said he had to do a second page to get the total of eight firefighters, including himself, needed to respond.

The family was evacuated, and about one city block was contained. No one else was in the apartments at the time.

Firefighters entered the area to fix the leak with air packs and hoses charged with water as a precaution, he said.

The gas was leaking out of a regulator, which decreases pressure from the tank, and was coming out so quickly it could be heard hissing 50 feet from the tank, Wisecup said.

The danger with propane is that it can settle in low areas, and when a large enough concentration builds up, it can result in fires and explosions.

Firefighters made sure there was no danger before allowing people to re-enter the apartment complex, about 30 to 45 minutes after the leak was reported.

The Oak Creek Fire Protection District responds to propane leaks about a half-dozen times a year, Wisecup said.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail scunningham@steamboatpilot.com

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