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Propane Tanks Explodes in N.M.

January 8, 2001

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (AP) _ Several propane tanks exploded Sunday at a gas company, sending fireballs into the air and spreading fire to homes. Residents were evacuated and at least some suffered minor injuries.

The tanks exploded at Cortez Gas Co. shortly before 8 p.m., said Carol Smith, a State Police dispatcher. ``They’ve got the fires under control,″ she said late Sunday.

Resident Rebecca Larner reported homes in her neighborhood were burning, while KCHS radio reported that five homes were on fire.

``There was a huge fireball,″ Larner said. ``Then there was a second explosion that was even larger. It was terrifying. The initial explosion caused at least a block of homes to go on fire.″

Domenica Rush, administrator at Sierra Vista Hospital, said 11 people had been hospitalized for minor injuries, mostly for smoke inhalation and minor burns.

``They’ve evacuated at least a 10-square block area,″ she said. ``So far, we’ve not had big injuries, but we’re ready for anything.″

The town, 150 miles south of Albuquerque, has about 6,200 residents.

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