By Brandi Makuski
It was 8 degrees above zero on Sunday morning when fire crews in Plover were called to 1050 Seventh St.
The caller reported a 30-pound propane tank had exploded, so PFD dispatched two engines to the scene.
Fortunately, Assistant Fire Chief Tim Ciseweski said, the call turned out to be far less serious. When crews arrived they could see flames coming from the propane tank, which was in a driveway between the home and a trailer.
“I don’t know that I’d call it an ‘explosion’ because there were no visible signs of that,” Cisewski said. “There was damage to the valve and it began to vent, and what [the caller] probably heard was that venting gas igniting.”
Cisewski said a resident of the home was melting down some metal materials using the tank, which was “too close to the heating unit.” The resident left briefly, and when he returned, the tank was venting gas and flames.
Firefighters moved the tank away from the home and into the front yard, but Cisewski said there was little they go do but let it burn for several minutes.
“We found it safer, in this case, to let continue to vent. The way it vents, it acts as a torch and pushes the flame in one direction,” he said. “With all our protective gear it was safe for us to pick it up and move it away, and let it continue to burn until the pressure was low enough to put the fire out.”
Had the crews extinguished the fire too soon, he said, the pressure from inside the tank would have been great enough to reignite.
“In this case, we know it’s controlled if we can keep it in that state. Once we had it away from the home, pressure began to drop and we did put it out with a dry chemical,” he said.
The home was evacuated when firefighters arrived, and while there was damage to the propane tank and some heat damage to a trailer in the driveway, no one was injured.
Plover police and the Wisconsin Station Patrol also responded to the scene.