1,000 evacuated after tanker truck crash in Kane

An estimated 1,000 Kane residents were evacuated Wednesday after a tanker truck loaded with butane rolled on its side near Greeves and Fraley streets.Bruce Manning, director of the McKean County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), said the tanker from the Elkhorn Propane Company of Warren carried 8,400 gallons of "liquid butane under pressure."He said the evacuation was necessary as a safety precaution before tedious work began to transfer the butane to a Crossett tanker.The evacuation began shortly after the accident at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. Nearly 12 hours later, evacuees were allowed to return to their homes.Kane Police Officer Bill Nichols was the first to respond to the scene. He said the tanker driver-- Jon Turner of Warren-- was able to escape from the overturned truck without injury.The evacuation covered about a half-mile radius between Laurel Avenue on the south, Park Avenue on the west, Haines Street on the north and Hacker Street on the east.Volunteer firefighters went door-to-door, often arousing sleeping residents to advise them of the mandatory evacuation.For the most part, the evacuation took place without incident, according to officials on the scene."Some citizens didn't want to leave their homes," Nichols said. "But there were no major problems."The New Thomson House apartments at Greeves and Fraley streets and the Central Towers apartments at Greeves and Edgar James streets were part of the evacuation.School buses from Jim Airgood Busing of Kane transported evacuees, first to the St. Callistus Church Hall on Chase Street and then to Kane High School.The school district canceled classes for the day after first declaring a two-hour delay. School administrators and other staff members were on duty at the high school where about 200 evacuees stayed.The American Red Cross hauled in breakfast food for the evacuees and the school served lunch. The Red Cross plans to reimburse the school district for this cost, according to Jason Bange of Bradford, the executive director of the McKean-Potter County Chapter of the Red Cross.Bange was at the school along with several Red Cross officials and volunteers.Most of the evacuees taken to the high school stayed in the cafeteria. Some relaxed in the auditorium. The Red Cross also set up cots in the school gymnasium.Before transferring the butane, both electric and natural gas service were turned off within several blocks of the accident scene.Members of the Kane Borough Streets Department also used plastic and other materials to cover storm drains near the wrecked tanker. Sand was used as a weight on the plastic covers.Numerous volunteer fire departments responded to Kane to assist the Kane Fire Department. Some of the departments include Mt. Jewett, Ludlow, Highland Township, Wilcox, Sheffield, Bradford Township and Johnsonburg. The Cherry Grove Fire Department "stood by" at the Kane Fire Hall.Several ambulances also responded. Emergycare ambulances from Kane, Sheffield and Corry were among those to respond along with Mt. Jewett.Ambulances transported some of the evacuees from their homes to the Red Cross shelter at the high school. Some ambulances transported persons to Kane Community Hospital for treatment of medical conditions not necessarily related to the evacuation.Lutheran Home vehicles also provided transportation for evacuees.Kane Fire Chief Tim Holt was the "incident commander."Kane Police Chief Brian Hillard and Kane Police Officer Derrick Snyder also responded.Police said the Elkhorn tanker was southbound on Fraley Street (Route 6) and was turning east on Greeves Street (Route 6) when it rolled on its side and wiped out a metal utility pole along Greeves Street in front of John Anthony's Restaurant.Police said two eyewitnesses claim that a black pickup truck, westbound on Greeves Street, "nosed" into the intersection and forced the tanker to make a wide turn. The pickup truck turned left and headed south on Route 66 and was never located, police said.The tanker had the right-of-way at the intersection with a flashing yellow traffic light, police said. The pickup truck faced a flashing red light at the intersection, police said.The Crossett tanker from Warren that hauled away the butane from the wrecked truck was driven by Mark Hottel of Kane.Manning said the transfer of the butane took several hours because of the nature of the fluid."We're kind of lucky," he said. "It could have been a lot worse."