Fire still mystery in explosionThe source of a fire that caused a booming propane explosion on Jan. 15 in west Dickinson is still a mystery and damage totals may never be known, says a fire official.
The source of a fire that caused a booming propane explosion on Jan. 15 in west Dickinson is still a mystery and damage totals may never be known, says a fire official.
“The cause of the initial fire before the explosion was an accidental cause, but as far as exactly what caused the fire, we haven’t come to that conclusion yet,” said Deputy State Fire Marshal Donald Temple.
Two hot oil trucks owned by B & B Hot Oil Services Inc. were being housed in a 50-foot by 60-foot shop space in the West Industrial Park, rented by the company’s owner, Blane Fugere.
After a fire ignited, a massive explosion rocked the city.
Dickinson Rural Fire Department Chief Curt Lefor said a propane leak “obviously” came from the trucks, but the leak’s location is unclear.
Each truck carried two 200-gallon propane tanks.
Temple said a driver of one of the truck’s said he filled its propane tanks before parking the truck, adding the other driver did not fill his truck’s tanks, leaving one empty and one partially filled before parking it for the evening.
The truck located on the shop’s west wall had completely full propane tanks, Temple said, adding the truck on the east wall had an empty upper propane tank and one-quarter of the lower tank remained.
Propane is a liquid under pressure and becomes a gas as it’s released, Temple said.
In going from liquid to gas, propane expands about 270 times, according to a Web site for Pennsylvania-based forensic engineers and scientists Lapina & Associates, LLC.
“It’s pretty destructive,” Temple said. “It did a lot of damage to a lot of buildings, a few homes.”
A furnace in the building was not running as there was no natural gas flowing through the building, Lefor said.
The building did have electricity.
Structural engineers and insurance companies are beginning to assess businesses and homes shaken by the blast.
Jerry Kram, president of Basin Filtration Systems & Tubin’ Testin’, a business located one building away from the blast site, said his building will have to undergo major repairs.
“I think it’s repairable, but I won’t know for sure until the engineer takes a look at it,” Kram said.
Baker Boy Bake Shop, Inc. President Guy Moos said the walls of one of their shops flexed and the ceiling moved.
Moos said the buildings have been deemed structurally sound.
“There is so much involved here, I don’t know if we’ll ever know the exact dollar amount,” Temple said.