Breckenridge, CO – These days Breckenridge firefighters have been getting a lot of experience investigating house explosions.
The latest was a second home belonging to Leo Smith of Parker. Kim Scott with the Breckenridge Fire Department says it caught fire Wednesday night. It’s believed a mechanical failure involving either the gas furnace or the fire place leaked propane into the home.
“We were called to a house explosion, when we arrived on scene there were 60 foot flames in the air,” said Scott.
No one was home at the time, but firefighters say there was person living above the garage near the home.
“There was a second garage with a studio apartment with a tenant in it that was able to escape safely,” said Scott.
Firefighters say it’s the latest in a long line of propane related fires over the years.
“We usually experience one or two a year,” said Scott.
Firefighters say as more people move and build homes around Breckenridge they tend to use propane and that increases the chances for propane related fires.
This past winter, two homes near Breckenridge caught fire after ice fell and broke propane lines. Before that, the Goodtimes lodge outside of town blew up due to a propane leak.
It’s why firefighters say extra care should be taken with maintaining propane tanks and lines especially going into the winter when ice can build up.
“Make sure you clear the ice or you have someone that’s on top of clearing the ice from the roof so that doesn’t happen, and making sure you’re pilot light stays on,” said Scott.
Investigators say Smith was home before his house caught on fire and noticed his pilot light was off. He restarted the light, and waited several hours before leaving. Later that night something caused the pilot to go back out leaking propane into the home.
It’s one reason firefighters recommend that you hire a property management company or call your local utility company to check propane tanks, lines or pilot lights. They also say if you have any questions, you can always call your local fire department.