Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Propane Evacuation Area Halved as Danger Lessens Special Pipes, Pumps Will Remove Gas Danger, Firm Says

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Propane Evacuation Area Halved as Danger Lessens Special Pipes, Pumps Will Remove Gas Danger, Firm Says

Article excerpt

About half of the nearly 12,000 people forced from their homes by the propane scare arrived home Friday after St. Louis city and county officials decided that the danger of explosion had lessened.

Union Electric Co. and Laclede Gas Co. began restoring utilities to the residents' homes immediately. Officials said restoration of gas service would take at least until Monday, but electricity should be restored by this morning.

Under lights from back porches, opened doorways and lampposts, south St. Louis residents hosed down refrigerators, scoured trays and even mowed lawns as they struggled to put their lives back in order.

Last weekend and earlier this week, many were given mere minutes to evacuate and left with only the clothes they were wearing.

"The first thing we're doing is trying to get the smell out of the refrigerator and freezer," said Clarence Thornton, 72, of the 7800 block of Minnesota Avenue. As he spoke, his son, Charles, sprayed the parts of a refrigerator dismantled on the back patio.

Thornton said he'd thrown out more than $700 of food and cleaned the refrigerator several times, but still couldn't wash away the stench.

Down the block, Lester Newman was burning incense in his living room.

"It's ripe, isn't it," he said, walking toward the kitchen with a flashlight. The lights had flickered and gone out in the neighborhood. Newman said he'd spend the night in his home if he could stand the smell.

Linda Bequette, owner of South Broadway Liquor, started airing out refrigerators when she came back to her shop about 6:30 p.m.

"As soon as we came in and turned on the lights, two guys came in who wanted cold beer," Bequette said. …

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