An Evacuation Information Center set up last weekend to provide information to Serene Lakes residents and property owners regarding leaking propane issues will be moved, beginning Wed., April 13, 2011. The Center will now be located upstairs at the Summit Restaurant and Bar, 22002 Donner Pass Rd., Soda Springs. The Center will be staffed Monday through Friday, from 10 AM until 4 PM. Placer County officials are accepting calls at 530-886-5310.
A community meeting is being scheduled for residents and property owners for the Serene Lakes community. That meeting will be on Fri., April 15, and details will be released later.
A voluntary evacuation order for the Serene Lakes community remains in effect. The order was issued by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office, in consultation with the Truckee Fire Protection District, on Sat., April 9. The order will remain in place until further notice, and public safety officials are encouraging residents and property owners in the area to leave until the order is lifted.
Placer County is making available to the public a regularly updated map of areas affected by propane leaks within the community. The map does not identify specific parcels, but rather, notes areas within the development that have active propane issues. That map is available by clicking this link: April 12, 2011 Serene Lakes Map.
The Placer County Sheriff’s Office will maintain a presence in the area for the duration of voluntary evacuation.
The explosion Friday night was at an unoccupied cabin and completely destroyed the three-story structure. The 10:19 p.m. blast sent debris flying hundreds of feet. The source of the ignition has not been identified, and no one was injured.
The Placer County Board of Supervisors approved a proclamation of local emergency at its meeting on Mon., April 11.
The situation remains active as new leaks are detected. However, there have not been any additional confirmed leaks in the past 48 hours. The warming weather is causing snowmelt, which is actually adding to the weight on propane plumbing. Propane vapor is heavier than air and seeks the path of least resistance while flowing downhill similar to water. The thawing and freezing snow causes the snow to crust over making it harder for the propane to find a path out of the snowpack.
The weight of the extraordinary snowpack this year has damaged pipes, valves, regulators and tanks. While there are no street closures currently in effect, there are individual residences that have been closed off with snow berms and entry into those areas is prohibited until propane levels dissipate.
Anyone who smells propane or natural gas inside or outside a building should immediately exit the area to a safe distance of 300 feet and then call 911. They should avoid, starting engines or motors, turning on cooking appliances, using heating or air conditioning systems or using other ignition sources. Even flipping a light switch on or off might ignite propane.
Property owners should seek assistance in getting their propane tanks and plumbing dug out. Some propane vendors are assisting property owners with this activity. Property owners are encouraged to contact their propane vendors for assistance.
Safety tips for the proper care of propane tanks during severe weather are on the county website at this link: Propane Safety
Placer County will continue to issue updates as the situation dictates.