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Theft of quarter-inch copper tubing from the fuel tank of a residence in La Plata caused a hazardous materials situation on Kent Avenue on Friday afternoon.

The fuel leaked into the crawl space under the residence, requiring the current tenants to evacuate.

According to Assistant Chief Mark Kaufmann of the La Plata Volunteer Fire Department, the copper tubing was cut and stolen from a 100-gallon home heating oil tank the previous night. The fuel then leaked out into nearby ditches that contain water pipes, where firefighters on the scene soaked up the red oil with special pads.

Kaufmann said CSX Railroad officials noticed the spill during track checks Friday morning near the residence where the copper tubing was stolen. Hazmat officials were called to the scene at 12:23 p.m.

Danger of an explosion was never present, Kaufmann said, but the immediate area of Kent Ave. was blocked off from traffic.

Water was poured down the ditches to clear out the oil.

Charles County Emergency Services hazardous materials team and firefighters from the Bel Alton, Waldorf and Indian Head volunteer fire departments were called to the scene.

Disposal of the oil-soaked pads was the responsibility of Maryland Department of Environment workers from Baltimore.

rbarnabi@somdnews.com