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Propane truck flips over in Athens

By Holly Hollman 340-2445

ATHENS — A situation that Athens Fire Chief Cliff Christopher called "very hazardous" ended safely Monday after a propane truck flipped near Strain Nursery.

"I went off the road and hit a soft spot and lost control and flipped," Heritage Propane driver George William Tiller, 48, of Athens said just before an ambulance took him to Athens-Limestone Hospital.

Tiller had cuts to his hand.

"He was lucky," Christopher said. "That cab was smashed, and he had to crawl out from the passenger's side."

The wreck occurred at 11:55 a.m. on Strain Road east of U.S. 31.

Police officer Jimmy Flint said one spark could have caused an explosion. Police and fire personnel evacuated homes on the road, and blocked traffic access.

Christopher said most residents were nursery workers who did not speak English.

"We were able to get across to them they needed to leave, and some went to the nursery and some went out their back doors into the field," Christopher said.

Christopher said the 3,000-gallon tank contained about 600 to 800 gallons of propane. Firefighters had to determine which valve was leaking and shut it off.

"Once we stopped the leak, a wrecker was able to set it up right," Christopher said.

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