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RUPTURED TANK LEAKS PROPANE AT W.V. FIRM

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A ruptured tank at a Franklin Quest construction site leaked a cloud of propane Wednesday, killing ducks at the complex and forcing its evacuation.

The 500-gallon tank rolled off a forklift about 7:30 a.m. during construction of a five-story addition to Franklin's West Valley complex, 2200 W. Parkway Blvd. (2670 South). A fractured valve leaked a cloud of visible propane into the new building and surrounding area, killing 15 to 20 ducks on a courtyard pond.A breeze eventually dissipated the gas but not before it had concentrated in isolated areas of the adjacent buildings. Construction workers and an estimated 200 Franklin employees were evacuated, and traffic was rerouted around the several-block area for more than two hours.

Immediately after the tank began leaking, workers came upon an area where a cloud of the gas had visibly accumulated to nearly 5 feet high, West Valley Fire Capt. Oliver Moore said.

"Our concern is the propane that leaked into the (existing) buildings," Moore said. Propane is stable at extremely high and low temperatures, with its flash point somewhere in the middle, he said.

Hazardous material crews and West Valley police worked quickly to secure the area, concerned that as the surrounding temperature warmed, the gas might ignite.

Propane concentrations measured in the company's three primary buildings - the Adams, Jefferson and Franklin - were such that Mountain Fuel workers called an "all-clear" at 9:10 a.m.

West Valley hazardous material crews, together with representatives of Amerigas, plugged the hole with a wooden stake and eventually moved the tank from the construction site to a parking lot, where it was loaded and taken away without further incident. Workers were allowed back in by 9:45 a.m.

Franklin officials were primarily concerned about a telecommunications center. "Customer service - that's where they take their orders," Moore said. "Being down for them costs a lot of money."

Franklin Quest - which markets time-management books, services and software - was ranked in November as No. 20 on Forbes magazine's annual list of top 200 small businesses.