Blackfoot Valley Dispatch - The Blackfoot Valley's News Source Since 1980

By Roger Dey
BVD 

Explosion knocks unoccupied building off foundation, ignites small blaze

 

April 18, 2018

Roger Dey

Firefighters Billy Cyr, Derek Perez and Jacob Blancher check for additional heat sources in the attic after cutting an entry into the attic from the outside.

An explosion caused by a propane leak damaged an unoccupied home along Highway 200 Sunday morning.

Firefighters with Lincoln Fire Rescue responded to a structure fire at a vacant home along Highway 200 after the building's neighbor reported an explosion at the building.

Tiffanny Shotnokof, who lives next door to the unoccupied house owned by William and Rhonda Skerlock called 911 just after 9 a.m. after smelling propane coming from the building and hearing what sounded like an explosion. Randy Shotnokoff then checked the building and saw that is was indeed on fire.

"There was a gas leak or something, because it went boom," he said.

At the time of the explosion, the Skerlocks, who's home is just east of the damaged house, were out of town on a trip, but have since returned to Lincoln.

Lincoln Fire Chief Zach Muse said he wasn't certain where the propane was leaking from, but said the regulator on the side of the house was hanging loose when they arrived. Weight from falling snow or ice may have played a role in the leak, but he wasn't able to confirm that.

Muse believes the propane had been leaking long enough to fill the house with fumes, which were probably set off when either the water heater or furnace kicked on.

Muse said the explosion sucked the air out of the house, which prevented burning inside of the building, beyond some surface melting.

Although it appeared from the outside that there was only minor damage to the building, Muse said the force of the explosion blew the north and south walls off the foundation and blew out the doors.

Muse said he suspects the water heater is what ignited the fumes, due to the amount of damage in the home's garage.

Roger Dey

Fire Captain Billy Cyr talks through plans for attacking the fire in the building's attic with other fire fighters.

"It doesn't seem like there was as much damage in the house as the garage", he said.

Muse said a flame from the explosion appeared to have ignited oil or gas on a snowblower in the garage, which spread flames into the wall, where it worked its way up into the homes attic.

Firefighters punched the department's piercing nozzle through the roof directly above the fire in the attic, which knocked it down quickly.

Although there was damage to the building from the water used to extinguish the fire, Muse said most of the buildings furnishings were saved. He wasn't sure whether the building will be considered a total loss due to the walls that were shifted off the foundation.

As a precaution, Muse suggested people check their propane lines for leaks, to ensure ice and snow hasn't damaged them.

 

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