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9-1-1 Call Saves Tollgate Home From Disaster

A neighbor helped prevent a complete disaster for one Summit County home.

Tollgate resident Jana Lee Corn was just pulling into her driveway after working on Tuesday evening when she noticed a smell of propane.

“I didn’t think a whole lot about it,” Corn continued. “I grabbed my dogs and started walking them and the smell just kept getting stronger and stronger. It was like where you could almost taste it and so I texted my neighbor who is also on the North Summit fire department and just asked him what I should look for what I should check. He told me to call it in immediately to 9-1-1. We went out and dug out our regulator of our propane tanks to make sure it wasn't us first, and it wasn't. I just went ahead and called it in to the 9-1-1 dispatch. The firefighters got up here they determined that it was a propane leak and they were able to tell pretty fast.”

North Summit Fire District was able to arrive on the scene and turn off the tank and the power to Corn's neighbor's home. Captain Mark Robertson explained how the leak happened.

“So, the home was under construction and they had some temporary propane tanks,” Robertson explained. “Some snow slid off the roof and it fractured one of the fittings. They went up and turn the tanks off and just secured the area. Called the contractor and he's going to take care of everything in the morning.”

Alan Powell, Corn’s neighbor she texted, and a member of the North Summit Fire District said that calling 9-1-1 likely saved the Tollgate home from being completely destroyed unlike the two homes in the Timber Lakes area east of Heber City. On February 15th a woman visiting a cabin in the Timber Lakes went inside to investigate a gas smell in the home. The home burst into flames a short time later and the woman was rescued by two neighbors who rushed into the burning home to save her. On March 17th a different home in the Timber Lakes exploded. While no one was in that home the debris hit several neighboring homes. The State Fire Marshall has not yet determined an official cause in either case, but leaking propane likely played a key role.

After the two explosions Wasatch County Fire District advised citizens to immediately evacuate a structure if they smell gas. They further advised residents to call 9-1-1 and if it’s safe to shut of the main valve at the tank.

The fire district also encourages owners to protect tanks, connections and regulators at the home from falling ice and snow, as well as from vehicle impacts as well as turning off all valves for fuel fired appliances when you leave. They further suggest that you clearly mark where tanks are to locate in emergencies and that you clear away vegetation from the vicinity of the tank to protect it from wildfire.

Captain Robertson added that people should make sure that their appliances are compatible with the energy they use.

“You have to buy appliances that are designed for propane.” Robertson said. “Sometimes it's easy to adapt one to the other, but you just have to make sure that if you're going to use it for propane that it’s set up for propane. We’ve had some incidences where people are just not been aware of the difference and they've just gone and say I just needed a gas water heater. It makes a big difference if it's propane. It needs to be set up for propane.”

Corn gave advice to others who live in homes connected to propane tanks.

“Make sure you dig them out and know where your regulator is,” Corn continued. “Make sure you know that it's all intact because we've got a lot of snow up here it's going to not melt for quite a while. We've got a couple more months before our propane tanks could be completely unburied. Know where your propane tank is and keep it unburied all winter.”

KPCW reporter David Boyle covers all things in the Heber Valley as well as sports and breaking news.
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