BREAKING NEWS 11:30 P.M. update

Evacuation order to be lifted at midnight on Thursday

By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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The train tanker car that has been on fire since noon on Tuesday has burned through the last of the propane it was carrying. Lincoln Fire Chief David Whitt announced shortly after 11 p.m. that the mandatory evacuation for residents in place since Tuesday will be lifted as of midnight tonight. That was according to Lincoln Fire Chief David Whitt, during a 10 p.m. press conference Wednesday at the Lincoln Community Center. “The fire was extinguished at one time, which led us to believe it has less product (propane),” Whitt said. “We determined we are 99 percent sure the product has burned off.” Fire personnel have begun filling the tank with foam and water at 10 p.m., according to Whitt. “As the tank fills, it pushes the vapor out,” Whitt said. The fire was relit to burn off any propane vapors that are exiting the tanker, according to Whitt. “We have a flare out the top, which is what we want,” Whitt said. The plans to leak the propane into a pond dug earlier in the day and then ignite it were abandoned after it was determined most of the propane had left the tank, according to Whitt. “The fire was lazy and not pushing with veracity, and continued to go down,” Whitt said. “Instead of doing the hot tap, we stopped and re-examined the situation.” Whitt said it would take about 60 to 90 minutes for the foam to push the rest of the propane vapor out of the tank. “What we are anticipating is looking at lifting the evacuation, tentatively around midnight,” Whitt said. “That will come from law enforcement and incident command.” Whitt said the Environmental Protection Area would not be coming to Lincoln to check air quality. "It's a propane fire," Whitt said, when asked why air quality would not be measured. "You cook food over it. If it was toxic, you wouldn't cook food over it." If the evacuation perimeter has been lifted prior to morning, Capitol Region Chapter American Red Cross public affairs volunteer Heath Wakelee said those sleeping in shelters would not be notified. "We are not going to make an announcement in the sleeping area. We'll let the kids and families sleep," Wakelee said. "We'll let them sleep and get breakfast in the morning. Evacuees who were still awake after 11 p.m. appeared happy that they might be able to go home after midnight. "I'm excited, and I'm glad to finally go home to my comfy bed," Freddy Aliano, 17, said. Aliano said he was evacuated out of his home at midnight on Wednesday. "I'm happy," Jenny Robledo, 18, said. She slept in her car the first night Lincoln had been evacuated, and talked about what she was looking forward to once home. "Going home and eating, and sleeping in my bed," Robledo said, who said the two nights have been better than the two days. "This has been an exciting night. In the day time, it was hot."