State Briefs

Posted: Friday, November 29, 2002

Overturned propane truck closes highway

GIRDWOOD - Residents were evacuated and the Alyeska Highway closed for eight hours after a tanker truck carrying 780 gallons of propane tipped on its side Wednesday, Alaska State Troopers said.

The only injury was to the driver of the Suburban Propane truck, 44-year-old Shelby Fagan of Anchorage. He was taken by ambulance to Providence Alaska Medical Center with shoulder injuries, troopers said.

The accident occurred around 9:50 a.m. near Mile 1.6 of Alyeska Highway. Troopers believe Fagan took his eyes off the road and drifted to the right. The tanker careered down a 10- to 15-foot embankment and tipped onto the passenger side, blowing a valve that could not be capped.

The accident triggered a massive response, as authorities worried there might be an explosion. Electricity was shut off in parts of Girdwood and people living or working within a quarter-mile of the accident were evacuated, troopers said.

The road blockade left Anchorage School District officials scrambling to get kids home safely. About 40 students commute from Girdwood to Dimond High School. Troopers had to escort some of the students to their houses. Others made arrangements to stay at friends' houses.

The propane tank stopped leaking around 3:45 p.m., troopers said. Authorities waited for the gas cloud to dissipate and then towed the vehicle. Alyeska Highway reopened at 6:30 p.m.

It was not immediately known how many gallons of propane spilled, officials said.

Juneau woman named to head Elections

ANCHORAGE - Laura Glaiser of Juneau has been named head of the state Division of Elections in the Murkowski administration.

Glaiser, 42, is a longtime legislative assistant who also worked for the state elections division in 1991-92 and the lieutenant governor's office from 1992-94. Most recently she has worked on legislation in the Senate Finance Committee for Sen. Pete Kelly, a Fairbanks Republican.

Gov.-elect Frank Murkowski takes office Monday.

State changes plan for Haines helicopters

ANCHORAGE - The state has altered parts of its special-use plan for commercial helicopter and heliskiing operations in the Haines State Forest area.

The Chilkoot Valley was removed from commercial helicopter operations areas and such operations were prohibited in the lower Ferebee Valley, the agency said. Some areas and flight corridors were added within the Chilkat Range and around Porcupine Mountain.

The special use designation for commercial heliskiing operations was adopted in October. The public asked that several aspects of the plan be reconsidered, including the flight areas, flight corridors and times available for heli-skiing operations, the state said.

The final plan forbids all summer helicopter operations.

Good weather helps crews remove oil from grounded boat

ANCHORAGE - Good weather has let salvage crews remove more than 1,300 gallons of oil aboard a Japanese squid boat grounded on Afognak Island.

Rough water and high winds had forced crews to temporarily stop removing fuels, oils and other hazardous materials from the 97-foot Genei Maru No. 7. The work resumed Wednesday.

So far, nearly 10,000 gallons of waste oil and other hazardous materials have been removed from the wreck. Workers plan to search the ship again to make sure all the fuel and oil have been removed, according to the Coast Guard.

The 140-ton squid catcher caught fire in June and was abandoned at sea. It then drifted across the Pacific Ocean to Alaska, where it has been grounded on Afognak island since Nov. 10.

Fairbanks couple dies when car crushed by logs

FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks couple was killed when a truck carrying a load of lumber overturned and crushed their car in British Columbia, said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Candice and Douglas Arruda were traveling Tuesday along the Trans-Canada Highway almost 15 miles north of Lytton, British Columbia, when a truck towing a trailer and pup loaded with lumber lost control on a right-hand curve and overturned shortly after 11 a.m., Constable Kim Rusk said.

They died at the scene.

Four people killed in holiday accidents

ANCHORAGE - Four people were killed in three separate accidents in Anchorage, police said Thursday.

The accidents occurred Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.

Just before 1:00 a.m. two people died when their car went off the Glenn Highway near the Muldoon exit. The car flew off an embankment and came to rest at a wooden fence. Walter Graham Jr., 32, a passenger, died instantly. The driver, Brian D. Litzinger, 36, was ejected and found lying by the side of the road. He died en route to Alaska Regional Hospital, police said.

Less than two hours later, Anchorage police responded to a one-car accident near Raspberry Road and Northwood Street. Stephen N. Indahl, 22, was killed after losing control of his car and it slammed into a Chugach Electric power box. Police said alcohol may have been a factor.

On Wednesday night, a woman was killed after being hit by a car as she attempted to cross Northern Lights Boulevard at the corner of Rose Street. Police said the woman ran out in front of the car, leaving the driver no chance to stop. The identity of the woman was not being released until relatives could be notified.



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