Texico residents allowed to go home

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

More than a dozen Texico residents were allowed to return to their homes around 2:30 p.m. Friday, two days after a truck accident resulting in a fuel spill forced their evacuation, according to Texico Fire Chief Lewis Cooper.

The residents of five homes in the 300 block of north State Line Road were evacuated Wednesday morning around 8 a.m. when a tractor-trailer carrying gasoline and diesel fuel overturned, spilling around 6,000 gallons of its load onto the roadway, officials said.

A portion of State Line Road was also reopened Friday after being closed to north- and south-bound traffic since the accident.

The driver of the overturned truck, Benny Sena, 31, of Amarillo was treated and released from Plains Regional Medical Center with minor bruises and scrapes, officials said.

No other injuries were reported.

The flash point, or flammability, of residual fuel in storm drains near the spill site was an ongoing concern until Friday. Cooper said hazardous material cleanup crews had been working since the accident to flush storm drains with a substance that reduces the volatility of the fuels and fumes.

Crews will continue working through next week to remove fuel-contaminated dirt from the area. Cooper said in some spots, crews were digging as deep as 12 feet to reach untainted soil. Fresh soil will be brought in to replace what is removed, he said.

Town water systems were not affected, he said.

Over the past three days, Cooper said the families were escorted into their homes to retrieve medication and clothing, but had otherwise been kept out of the area.
Clovis Fire Chief Ray Westerman said crews had been taking frequent meter readings of the area to monitor vapor levels and flammability. He said he believed the environmental impact would be minimal.

“It was a pretty volatile situation — nobody got hurt and everybody came home. It could have been much more devastating had the fuel ignited and spread. We were very fortunate that it didn’t ignite,” he said.