Exploding propane, bullets hamper firefighting effort

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CLINTON — Crews responding to a house fire here early Wednesday had to battle heat, freezing temperatures — and bullets.

Just before 1 a.m., a passer-by saw a truck on fire parked outside 1010 N. 2850 West. Inside the truck were boxes of .22-caliber ammunition. Attached to that was a trailer with propane tanks. When fire crews first arrived, the heat from the fire was causing the propane tanks to explode and the ammunition to go off, said Clinton Deputy Fire Chief Justin Benabides.

"We try to keep safe and put the fire out from a distance," he said of the initial plan for fighting the fire. Fortunately, the ammunition was spent in a timely manner, allowing fire crews to move in closer.

An initial investigation showed the fire started after the homeowner cleaned out his fireplace and put coals into a bucket.

"He cleaned out his fireplace, let the coals soak for 24 hours. And he set the coal can next to the garbage can and that's what we believe has started the fire," Benabides said.

The garbage can caught fire, which spread to the truck and then the trailer, followed by the garage and back of the house. The fire got into the attic and some of the eves, he said.

Initial damage estimates were at $200,000. A family of four and two dogs were able to get out of the home safely.


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