Fairbanks, AK – A North Pole man received burns to his arms and face Thursday night when propane leaked into his cabin and ignited, causing an explosion and fire that burned the cabin to the ground.

William Bell, 54, was in the 12-by-16-foot cabin on Tyrone Way at the time of the explosion and escaped with only minor burns to his arms and face, battalion chief Ernie Misewicz with the North Star Volunteer Fire Department said on Saturday.

The cause of the fire is believed to be a leaky or faulty fitting on a propane tank that “dumped” propane into the cabin, the chief said.

“It started leaking and within a matter of seconds it had detonated,” Misewicz said.

Bell, a renter, was outside the cabin when firefighters arrived about 6:30 p.m., only four minutes after getting the call.

Bell had badly singed hair, flash burns to his face and first-degree burns on his arms, Misewicz said. He was taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, where he was treated and released.

If more propane had leaked into the cabin, the explosion and Bell’s injuries could have been much more serious, Misewicz said.

Even with the quick response, the cabin was already consumed by fire when firefighters arrived. A large plume of black smoke could be seen three miles away as firefighters raced down Bradway Road, Misewicz said.

“When we got there, the roof had already collapsed and the walls were falling in,” he said.

The fire started to spread beyond the building and into the woods around the house, and falling embers also ignited the wall of an A-frame storage building close to the house.

The flames in the wooded area were contained within about five minutes, and the house fire was also controlled within a few minutes.

The Division of Forestry was called to the scene to help contain the fire in the woods and firefighters from Fort Wainwright and Steese Volunteer Fire Department also responded.

The house, valued at $10,000, was a total loss. It was unknown if there was any insurance on the cabin.