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Gasoline leak forces evacuation in McCutchenville

By BRIAN BOHNERT
FOR THE COURIER
A number of McCutchenville residents were evacuated from their homes Wednesday evening after gasoline leaked into the village’s sewer system, and some were not back in their homes Thursday.
Dan Stahl, director of the Seneca County Emergency Management Agency, said the leak occurred at the Clark gas station at 8910 S. Ohio 53. The fuel got into a storm sewer system on the west side of town, filling area homes with a “strong odor” of gas, he said.
Dean Henry, Seneca County public information officer, reported that “gasoline escaping from an underground storage tank infiltrated the storm water system, causing vapors to enter residential and business structures.”
Stahl said firefighters from Fostoria, Tiffin and elsewhere brought in meters to monitor levels of the gas vapor, a highly explosive substance that also poses health hazards.
“Something as simple as flipping a switch can create an arc, ignite the vapors and can cause a flash fire or explosion,” said Fostoria Fire Chief Keith Loreno. “It’s a pretty serious situation.”
Firefighters called cleanup contractors Wednesday night as well as representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Stahl said crews were making progress Thursday.
“The big thing today is to get these levels down to where they need to be so these residents can return to their homes,” Stahl said.
The Red Cross opened an emergency shelter at Trinity United Church of Christ in McCutchenville for those who were evacuated, but Stahl said no one used the facility Wednesday night.
Residents who smelled gasoline or a fuel odor, or who experienced nausea, headaches or unexplained medical symptoms, were advised to immediately evacuate and call 911.
Six businesses, 38 homes, and 67 people were displaced by the leak, which was first detected at approximately 3 p.m. Wednesday.
As of 6 p.m. Thursday, people had returned to all but 17 residences.
Henry said firefighters did door-to-door monitoring Thursday afternoon, and did not detect any further gasoline vapors.
Fostoria Fire Division, Sycamore Volunteer Fire Department and EMS, Tiffin Fire Rescue Division, Seneca County EMA, Wyandot County EMA, Hancock County Chapter of the American Red Cross, and the Ohio EPA were all called to McCutchenville on Wednesday evening to assist the McCutchenville Volunteer Fire Department.
Staff writer Morgan Manns contributed to this report.

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