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Propane leak brings Metrorail to a halt in Maryland, prompts evacuation

The leak occurred at 31 Derwood Cir., near Route 355 and College Parkway, on the grounds of Suburban Propane in Montgomery County.


A firefighter walks toward a plume of propane escaping from a tank at Suburban Propane in Rockville. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

A propane tank sprung a leak near a Metro track Thursday, causing a rail shutdown in Rockville and the evacuation of Montgomery College.

Montgomery County fire spokesman Pete Piringer said the leak occurred at 31 Derwood Cir., near Route 355 and College Parkway, on the grounds of Suburban Propane, a propane sales and service company. He said the valve of a roughly 1,000-gallon tank of propane was sheared off.

The leak was about the size of a tennis ball, Piringer said, and occurred less than 100 feet from rail lines, including tracks that service Metro’s Red Line. Service was suspended between the Shady Grove and Twinbrook stations for nearly three hours.

Hazmat crews and Suburban Propane employees worked to plug the leak, which also prompted the closure of roads in the area.


A sign in front of Montgomery College tells the tale after a propane leak that caused evacuations and Metro stoppages in Rockville. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

In a statement, a Suburban Propane spokeswoman said no one was injured and that employees “took the appropriate measures to contain the situation.”

The propane was in liquid and gas form, Piringer said, adding that responders released the gas and collected the liquid. Cool, rainy weather and humidity Thursday helped to prevent accumulation of the highly flammable gas.

“One thing could have led to another,” Piringer said. “They took appropriate action, and it ended okay.”

Metro sent shuttle buses for rail riders while Montgomery College evacuated its Rockville campus because of the strong odor.

Marcus Rosano, a spokesman for the college, said the evacuation order was lifted before noon.

“Everybody’s back in place and getting ready for commencement tomorrow,” he said. “That threw a monkey wrench in our plans.”

Update - Suburban Propane, Rockville, HazMat crews assisting SP technicians in attempt to stop (plug) leak from 1000 gal tank, FFs will standby w/ hoselines, etc pic.twitter.com/EmhNrMkYsG

— Pete Piringer (@mcfrsPIO) May 17, 2018

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