Oxygen tanker truck crashes, causes explosion in California

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — Patients were evacuated Wednesday on gurneys and in wheelchairs after a tanker truck carrying liquid oxygen crashed and caused a loud explosion at a medical clinic, closing a key highway in the San Francisco Bay Area, authorities said.

No injuries were reported from the crash and the blast that 911 callers said caused buildings to shake at the Kaiser outpatient facility in Santa Rosa, according California Highway Patrol Officer John Sloat.

Kaiser employee Jenna Ausiello was in a conference room when she heard the explosion.

“It sounded like the start of an earthquake,” she told the Press-Democrat newspaper. “That’s what I thought was happening. The windows shook … it was just a big boom.”

Hazardous materials crews responded after the Matheson tanker truck struck an outer wall at the rear of a clinic building and began to leak, Santa Rosa fire officials said. Matheson is an industrial and medical gas supplier.

One of the buildings evacuated contained an outpatient surgery center. Buses and ambulances were sent to evacuate employees and patients, some of whom were in wheelchairs and on stretchers.

Northbound and southbound lanes of U.S. 101, which runs nearby, were temporarily closed as a precaution.

It was not immediately clear if a brush fire at the scene was related to the crash and explosion.

It was extinguished by one of the first arriving fire engines, Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal said.

The clinic is a few blocks from Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of San Francisco.

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