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Sep-29-2007 13:24printcomments

Fiery Crash on Sauvie Island Affects Natural Gas Customers

The driver escaped from the vehicle before it caught fire, but he was injured in the crash.

Crash scene on Suavie Island in Portland, Oregon 9-28-07
Photo courtesy: Multnomah County Sheriff

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Witnesses called 911 last night around 6:10 PM to report that a pick-up truck had crashed in the 14400 block of NW Gillahan Rd on Sauvie Island.

The callers told police that the pick-up had crashed into a power pole knocking it over, bringing down power lines. The vehicle came to rest on a series of high pressure natural gas pipelines that service Sauvie Island.

Lt. Jason Gates with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office says at least one of the high pressure lines was breached, leaking natural gas into the air. The pick-up caught fire and according to witnesses "exploded" into flames.

Sauvie Island Fire and Rescue responded to the scene and made the decision to not extinguish the flame, worrying that the ruptured gas line would catch fire. The fire eventually burned out according to Gates.

The pick-up's driver, 57-year old
Charles Murr was arrested after
the crash

"The driver escaped from the vehicle before it caught fire. He was the only occupant of the vehicle and was transported by ground to Emanuel Hospital with unknown injuries. The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office is investigating the circumstances of the crash and the condition of the driver at this time."

The driver of the involved vehicle has been identified as 57-year old Charles Murr of Sauvie Island. Multnomah County Investigators have charged Murr with DUII. He remains at Emanuel Hospital with non life threatening injuries.

Northwest Natural Gas personnel arrived around 7:00 PM and began the process of isolating the leaking pipeline and draining it. During the course of this process, Gates says the traffic area around the leak was restricted to a one mile radius. "First responders also conducted an evacuation of one half mile around the leak area, which effected only a few homes," he added.

As of 11:45 PM, gas service was cut off to Sauvie Island effecting approxmately 1,300 residents. Power outages also effect sporadic areas on Sauvie Island and along Hwy 30.

Natural Gas Technicians are still evaluating the damage to the pipeline and have given an estimate of tomorrow morning before service is restored. It is unknown at this time how long before electrical power will be restored.

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