Tree branch falls on propane tank, prompts gas leak evacuations

EL CAJON, Calif. -- Authorities evacuated several homes in El Cajon when a leak from a damaged propane tank was reported before dawn Saturday morning.

A tree branch fell in the early morning in the yard of a home on Lomita Road near Old Chase Avenue and knocked a propane tank off its footing, causing it to land upside down.

“Taking a look at it, it actually mimics a tree trunk. That’s how big the branch is,” said San Miguel Fire and Rescue Batt. Chief Garret Browning.

Propane began spewing out of the tank, and authorities were called shortly after 4:20 a.m., SMFD Capt. Kevin Clark said.

Firefighters from the San Miguel and Heartland department responded, along with hazardous materials teams from both the city and county of San Diego, San Miguel Fire spokesman James Marugg said.

Marugg said nearby homes were evacuated, and crews used gas monitors to locate areas where the gas had settled (propane is heavier than air).

"We were able to isolate those areas and evacuate as few people as possible," he said. The leak was stopped and residents were allowed back into their homes by about 7:30 a.m., he added.

About five homes were evacuated during the incident. No one was hurt.

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