Man hurt in gas blast, home burns
A fuel deliveryman suffered severe burns Monday and a house sustained moderate to heavy damage up Canyon Creek when propane ignited, resulting in an explosion and fire, Glenwood Springs Fire Department battalion chief Gary Tillotson said.
The department was called to 1194 Garfield County Road 137 by neighbor Dave Adamson at 2:15 p.m. after Adamson heard the explosion.
“It sounded like a giant barbecue exploded,” he said. “This was like a giant Bunsen burner.”
The deliveryman, who was working for Glenwood Springs-based Cross Propane Company, suffered burns to his face and hands, Tillotson said. The injured man was transported via ambulance to Valley View Hospital. Hospital officials declined to release the man’s name or any information on his condition.
“He was lucky he didn’t get his face burned off,” Adamson said.
The approximately 1,000-square-foot cabin, located between C.R. 137 and Canyon Creek, sustained “moderate flame damage and pretty extensive water damage,” Tillotson said.
“It was the propane. He was putting it in the tank and the vapors found an ignition source,” Tillotson said.
The preliminary investigation showed that ignition source might have been the pilot of a nearby hot water heater, but Tillotson said he wasn’t yet sure.
The flames burned for more than a half hour after crews arrived. Firefighters could have put them out, but they let the propane burn so the escaping gas wouldn’t accumulate and possibly cause another explosion.
“Our original intent was to keep the flames out of the house,” Tillotson said. “Then we extinguished the flames and tried to stop the leak.”
Along with spraying down the cabin, firefighters used water from a hose to keep the tank cool.
Unfortunately, once the flames were out, the tank was too badly damaged to stop it from leaking, requiring fire crews to stay on hand until all the gas leaked out of the tank.
“We finally, now, got all the propane out,” Tillotson said at 5:15 p.m. Crews stayed at the scene of the fire until after 5:30 p.m.
Emergency crews from both Glenwood Springs and from Burning Mountains Fire District responded to the fire, which occurred a little more than a mile up Garfield County Road 137. When they arrived, flames were shooting 10 feet into the air from the propane tank’s leak.
The injured man’s propane delivery truck was close to the flames when the explosion first occurred, but even after he was burned, the man had the presence of mind to shut off the valve and move the truck out of harm’s way, a neighbor said.
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SILT — Water managers are dealing with the after effects of the Grizzly Creek Fire and subsequent mudslides in Glenwood Canyon by continuing a water quality monitoring program.