Nursing home evacuation complete after propane leak

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About 85 patients have been evacuated from a Center Moriches nursing home after a leak in a propane tank was reported Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

Seventeen fire and rescue departments helped empty the Cedar Lodge Nursing Home Tuesday night, while experts mounted a controlled "burn off" of propane inside a 500-gallon tank buried there, said Center Moriches fire officials, which oversaw the evacuation.

"Once that's done, they're going to assess the situation and put people back," said fire dispatcher Charles Mineo. "It's probably going to be the wee hours of the morning till everybody starts going back."

Burning off remaining propane typically involves using flare stands or propane torches to slowly use up, or burn, the remaining gas. That's an alternative to venting raw propane into the air.

Problems at the nursing home were reported at 4:15 p.m., Suffolk police said.

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The evacuation took hours, and Mineo said patients who needed the most care were taken to hospitals and the others were taken to Center Moriches High School.

Evacuations at the nursing home complex were started as a precaution, he said. No injuries were reported, fire officials said.

According to its website, Cedar Lodge is a 100-bed facility that specializes in long-term care and rehabilitation services.

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