Gasoline spill forces Illahee evacuation

"Ron Reed didn't hear the tanker that crashed into a ravine near his Illahee home Wednesday night. He, along with the rest of the nation, was enthralled with a historical night of television.We didn't hear a thing, the Bahia Vista Drive resident said. We were watching 'Survivor.' The Reeds were among about 30 families evacuated as emergency crews fought a gasoline spill. The spill, which occurred around 10 p.m., happened when a truck towing a tanker of gasoline took a curve too fast, causing the tank to roll into a nearby ravine.Gasoline dumped out of the center compartment of the tank and combustible vapors filled the area.An estimated 800 gallons of the truck's 6,700 gallon load dumped into the ravine, which empties into Port Orchard Bay. Curt Hart of the state Department of Ecology said Coast Guard officials saw a 5 foot by 50 foot light sheen of gasoline atop the water Thursday. Although it is unknown how much gasoline leaked into Port Orchard Bay, Hart said most was absorbed into the ground. A private firm, Foss Environmental of Seattle, was called in to help clean up the spill.Hart said gasoline is toxic, but it evaporates quickly. Crews were expected to flush the soil of the remaining fuel late last week.The impact of the leak on local wildlife, including bald eagles and salmon, will remain unknown until further studies occur, according to Hart.Houses within a 1,000 foot radius of the spill started being evacuated at about 11:30 p.m. Kitsap Transit buses helped evacuate residents above the spill, while Bremerton Fire Department boats took residents below the spill to docks in Illahee and Bremerton. Electricity was cut off in the area around midnight in order to decrease the risk of vapors catching fire. Firefighters sprayed foam throughout the area to get rid of the vapors.The truck was driven by Rich German, who was not injured in the accident and helped firefighters when they arrived at the scene. Portland-based Harris Transportation owns the vehicle. Company owner Brian Harris said the Illahee incident was German's first accident in just more than one year with the company. Harris said no disciplinary action has been taken against German and that the company still is investigating what happened. Harris also was unaware of how much the spill would cost the company.After the rest of the gasoline was sucked out of the two undamaged compartments, emergency crews filled the tanker with carbon dioxide to expel any remaining vapors and towed the truck away.Electricity was restored by about 9:30 a.m. Thursday, and residents were allowed back into their homes at approximately 9:45 a.m. The road was reopened to traffic at about 2 p.m. Although German was not issued a ticket, Harris Transportation will be responsible for the cost of the entire clean up.Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue spokesperson Judy Knudtzon said the driver got lost trying to find a gas station on Perry Avenue. Reed said the road is infamous in the neighborhood for its hairpin turns and lack of turnarounds. Reed said drivers often get lost in his neighborhood and routinely turn around in his driveway. "

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