Flood waters push propane tanks 65 miles down the Cheat River, officials urge caution

PRESTON COUNTY, W.Va. – Preston County officials are still cleaning up following the June microburst that led to federal disaster declaration in six Mountain State counties this summer. The Litter Control Officer, Jay Sowers reports two propane tanks have been spotted in the Cheat River and he believes there may be one more headed down stream.

An investigation into the serial numbers on the tank that was retrieved led investigators to the Town of Harman. Harman was one of many West Virginia towns that endured four inches of rain in just a few hours June 29 into 30.

Assistant director of Preston County E-911, Justin Wolfe said,”It actually came from Harmon. So, from Harman from he located it would have been about 65, 66 river miles from where it started to where it ended up. One of the other tanks actually made it further, it made it to the Rockville area of Preston County.”

Wolfe says with the help of officials in Tucker County and Preston County residents they have been tracking the tanks since the storm looking for the right opportunity to remove them from the river.

Law requires propane tanks to be “flood strapped” in flood zones. The details of strapping varies based on the size of the tank. Most strapping is done with steel bands, concrete or concrete blocks.

Wolfe said,”One of the tanks was venting when it went by because you could smell the propane, probably the valve got knocked or cracked or something to where it was venting.”

When the large heavy tanks are in flood water they become an even greater danger to property and people.