A 50-foot tower of flames fed by 7,000 gallons of pressurized liquid
propane being transferred from a truck to a storage tank was snuffed by
a 28-year-old man who said it was no big deal.
Gerald D. Potter, a heating fuel executive living at 14847 Lassen, may
have saved a block of businesses at Sepulveda and Oxnard boulevards, as
well as untold lives, but he said: "It would have burned out after
a while anyway."
Potter heard news reports of the blaze on the radio and drove to the
American Butane Co. storage yard, 5919 Sepulveda Blvd. As firefighters
provided a protective cover of spray, Potter turned a total of 10
valves on the tanker truck and in the storage yard to quench the
The only reported injury was second-degree burns suffered by firefighter Paul B. Ruddick of Engine Co. 39 when he shut off another valve.
Note: The original estimate of 15,000 gallons of propane was later reduced to 7,000 gallons.