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|Daniels charged in propane incident, 150 evacuated|
Concordia Parish Sheriff's deputies arrested Charles R. Daniels, 22, Mooselodge Road, Vidalia, on several charges on Thanksgiving, including leaving the scene of an accident, after he reportedly struck a 500-gallon residential propane tank in the pre-dawn hours, causing the evacuation of approximately 150 people within a one-mile radius of the leaking tank.
The tank was located near 1246 Mooselodge Road.
Daniels was additionally charged with simple criminal damage to property, simple obstruction of a highway and disturbing the peace.
Concordia Fire District No. 2 Chief Nolen Cothren said the early morning scene was considered extremely dangerous, as propane is a highly combustible gas. He noted that a mere spark can set it off, whether it's static electricity from a cell phone, a radio or just from a person's own static electricity. "With the right mixture (of the gas), just one spark can set it off."
The fire chief explained that propane is heavier than air and is difficult to dissipate. "The entire area was covered with it when we arrived ñ it was in the ditches and everywhere," he said. Eventually, a breeze began to scatter and dissipate the gas.
Metro Ambulance Service designated all of its units to the area to assist in the evacuation and be available for the emergency.
Fire Department personnel, sheriff's deputies and Metro personnel notified all area residents to leave their homes, including residents of Country Estates and Pecan Acres mobile home parks, Ralph Road and some homes on Mooselodge Road. They were allowed to return to their homes in approximately three hours, Cothren said.
According to Sheriff's Deputy Stephen Karabelen, Daniels apparently backed into the propane tank at about 3:50 a.m., then pulled off, driving his vehicle into a ditch. He then reportedly knocked on the door of a Mooselodge Road residence, seeking assistance in getting his truck out of the ditch.
That homeowner immediately noticed the leaking propane and notified the CPSO 911 dispatcher. Daniels reportedly left that residence, obtained help in getting the vehicle out of the ditch, spinning rocks and allegedly breaking the windshield of a vehicle across the street ñ owned by the same person who made the initial 911 call ñ and drove off.
Karabelen said while others were being evacuated, Daniels reportedly returned to the scene, parked his vehicle in the middle of the road, left it running and went inside his own nearby residence. Daniels' truck was still dragging the chain used to pull it out of the ditch. It was towed from the scene and Daniels was arrested on the multiple charges at his home. He was released from the Concordia Parish Jail that same morning under a $2,079 bond.
Daniels was arrested in May í07 on a charge of simple battery after allegedly beating a Ferriday man who stopped to help him on the side of the road. That charge was later dismissed.
In late 2005, Daniels was placed on state probation for his role in a major parish theft ring after pleading "no contest" to a reduced charge of conspiring to commit felony theft. His original charges of accessory to theft and four counts of principal to theft, dated back to December 2003 when he and several others were charged in connection with the theft of thousands of dollars worth of 4-wheelers and other items taken from Concordia and surrounding area businesses, homes, camps, farms and construction sites. He later received a full pardon in this case.
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