Propane leak triggers home explosion

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PORTAGE, Box Elder County — A propane leak triggered a home explosion Monday, officials said.

The home was a total loss, according to Box Elder County Fire Marshal Corey Barton. He said they received reports of the explosion just before 2 p.m.

"The homeowner had actually stated that he had smelled propane earlier in the house and called the propane company," he said.

The man, who Barton described as elderly, was able to safely leave the house, turn off the propane and cross the street before the explosion occurred. During the call, the propane company advised he turn off the propane and call an appliance repairman to come look at his stove. The exact ignition source of the explosion has not yet been identified.

Barton said the man was not burned or severely injured, but was transported to a local hospital for examination.

"The gentleman is lucky to be alive," he said. "Propane explosions are very dangerous. The gas is actually just a little bit heavier than air and it will pool in low areas until it finds a source of ignition and then it takes off."

The blast could be felt several blocks away, Barton said. It took three hours for 18 firefighters from the Portage, Garland and Fielding fire departments to put out the fire.

The fire was contained to the home, but a vehicle in the driveway was damaged by direct flames. The total value of the loss was estimated to be about $150,000, Barton said.

"We're getting to the time where people are going to be bringing out the campers and everything else, so it just goes to remind you how dangerous propane gas can be," he said. "Don't take it for granted."

Contributing: Cleon Wall and Devon Dolan


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