Propane leak in Bethesda investigated

(Photo: Presidio of Monterey/flickr)

Unique modern technology is being added to Bethesda resident Carl Alving’s home, but Friday, a careless mistake put his entire neighborhood in danger.

“Big jet of gas coming out into the air,’ says Alving, who lives in the 7000 block of Glenbrook Road.

Workers are installing geo-thermal wells for heating and cooling, but at some point a Bobcat excavator drove over a vent pipe connected to a 1,000 gallon underground propane tank. Thousands of gallons of gas quickly started spewing into the air. Alving’s panic level rose as quickly as the gas.

“They called the hazmat and we got evacuated,” says Alving.

Most of the homes on the block were evacuated. One elderly man needed medical assistance. A serious gas scare is not the way residents wanted to start their day.

“It was a little disconcerting, blocking access to and from the neighborhood,” says Bradley Graham, a resident.

“Our concern, obviously, was low explosive limits. Evacuate properties,” says Derek Anthony of Montgomery County Fire and EMS.

And the nice weather with very little wind didn’t help disperse the gas. The fire department unsuccessfully attempted to plug the leak before gas crews finally arrived.

“Propane is a highly volatile product,” says Anthony.

“I’m just glad there wasn’t a fire,” says Marie-Anne Devinsky, another resident. “An explosion, that would be very serious.”

The fire department is keeping a few units on the scene while Suburban Propane stabilizes the lines and completely empties the tank.