the near U.S. 87. about sand estimate but one said on and a Thurrity, Joa* 17,1171 Anuirillu ;iulM**TimÂ«** 33 Gos Tanks Blamed In Ambulance Fires NEW ORLEANS (AP) - There Li no evidence of sabotage in the mysterious case of two ambulances which exploded exploded into flames about an hour apart as they raced to a hospital, state police said. A Plaquemines Parish official said the fires apparently were caused by a defect in metal "straps" which attached attached the gasoline tank under the vehicles. vehicles. Parish Fire Marshal and Safety Engineer James Hoffman said preliminary investigation indicates the straps, due to wear and stress, slipped and allowed the gasoline tank to droop. Hoffman said gasoline vapor in the drooping tank probably was ignited by sparks when the tank scraped along the pavement, or when vapor came in contact contact with the hot catalytic converter on the exhaust The faulty strap conclusion was borne out by the fact that when an ambulance of similar manufacture was examined examined it was found to have the same problem, Hoffman added. Monday's double fire happened about one hour apart. In the first one, about 10 miles below Belle Chassc, a man was trapped inside the ambulance and perished. He was Robert P. Cognevich, 35. a Buras fisherman. Another ambulance, sent from Belle Chasse to pick up survivors of the first fire, also burst into flames while carrying carrying them to West Jefferson Hospital. The driver suffered burns but managed to rescue his passengers. Hoffman said the rest of five Cadillac ambulances operated in the parish have been parked "until such time as we determine the cause of the accident" Other vehicles were leased to replace them.