Dell Praire, WI – Experts Warn To Winterize Furnace

DELL PRAIRIE, Wis. — A 77-year-old Adams County man is in critical condition with severe burns after his home blew up on Friday.

The man smelled gas in his mobile home in Dell Prairie. He went down to his basement to investigate, and ignited an explosion by flipping on a light switch.

Gas experts say most accidents happen when customers try to re-start their systems after a service interruption, or after they’re empty.

“When the customer calls and is out of gas, that’s when most accidents can happen,” said Mike Henhenberger, gas supervisor for Consumers Co-Op in Sauk City.

His advice? “Don’t turn on any lights light switches. If you smell propane leave immediately and go to your neighbor’s house,” he said.

A rotten egg type of smell is added to propane and natural gas just for safety reasons. If you smell that, get out — then call for help.

In light of what happened to that elderly man, technicians say a refresher course in furnace safety is needed.

Joe Rain’s been in a lot of basements during his 35-years with MG&E, and he tells us the burner, fan, filter and chimney all need to be checked as winter approaches.

“It’s absolutely a good idea,” he said. “A lot of people take it for granted that a box (in their basement) is going to spit out the heat with no maintenance whatsoever.”

Rain tells us he’s already seen a lot of furnaces that were in desperate need of repair and fine tuning. He says inspections are especially important for older units to make sure the burner is working safely and efficiently.