California firefighters worked through the night to control a blaze that broke out Tuesday afternoon in a tank car filled with 29,000 gallons of liquid propane. The crew of specialists from Texas determined Wednesday the metal sides of the tanker were beginning to melt, and workers were preparing to cut into the tanker to spill the liquid propane, KCRA-TV, Sacramento, reported.
"Despite the best efforts of firefighters to cool the tanker with water, the tank is showing signs of melting and (is) coming apart," Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.
The fire could burn for up to two weeks if it is left to its own devices, fire officials said.
The possibility that the tank car would explode prompted the evacuation of thousands of homes and businesses in Lincoln, part of metropolitan Sacramento, the Sacramento Bee reported.
The evacuation order affected everything within a mile radius of the Northern Energy tank farm where the fire was burning.
Fire crews said if the tanker exploded it would send a fireball rolling at ground level for several blocks and hurl large pieces of metal into the air.