Propane truck forces 50 to flee

BEDFORD – Authorities ordered about 50 people out of a milewide area Friday after a propane-laden truck flipped onto its side near Bedford.

Emergency workers received word of the crash at 4:13 a.m., county Emergency Director Dave Cubbison said – the 18-wheeler had flipped near the intersection of routes 30 and 31. While its driver wasn’t injured, his highly flammable cargo potentially could have caused a massive explosion.

Bedford-area firefighters and medical personnel secured the area by mid-morning and prepared for private specialists to move the liquid propane, Cubbison said.

But the dangerous work required emergency workers to evacuate a half-mile radius surrounding the crash site, including several homes and businesses, he said.

“I thought, ‘We’re probably safer inside here,'” Melissa Jacobs, co-owner of the nearby Jean Bonnet Tavern, joked hours after the crash. The historic bed-and-breakfast is surrounded by a 3-foot-thick stone exterior.

Despite the danger, emergency workers allowed Jean Bonnet guests time to get dressed and eat breakfast before transferring the fuel to smaller trucks, she said.

Several homes and businesses in the “hot zone,” including Bedford Materials, Shawnee Vinyl and Bedford Suzuki-Yamaha, were cleared before contractors emptied the trailer’s 9,000 gallons of propane.

None of the propane spilled; diesel and oil leaks from the truck’s engine were quickly contained, he said.

Responders closed a section of Route 30 surrounding the crash site Friday morning, but by early afternoon traffic was cleared to pass.

After a few hours at home, Jean Bonnet Tavern employees returned to work at lunchtime, Jacobs said.

Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.