CA – A Donner Summit home exploded Wednesday night after propane from a neighboring home leaked under the snow and into the house, according to fire officials.
“We had literally fiberglass in the trees and clothes in the trees. It was very apparent we had an explosion,” said Donner Summit Fire Department Chief Doug Rinella, who was first on the scene just after 6:15 p.m.
Flames from the home shot 60 feet in the air and parts of the building, including the roof, were scattered around the house, Rinella said.
No one was injured in the incident, which occurred 200 feet north of Donner Pass Road, near the Soda Springs General Store.
Fifteen firefighters from Summit Fire, Truckee Fire Protection District and California Department of Forestry contained the blaze in 45 minutes.
“There was about 10 to 12 feet of snow, which made firefighting difficult,” Rinella said.
There was no damage to surrounding structures and minor damage to nearby trees, officials reported. The house was a total loss.
Upon investigation, officials determined the ruined structure was only connected to electricity and not any sort of explosive gas.
Investigators discovered a neighboring house, located approximately 60 feet away, was connected to a propane tank buried under 10 – 12 feet of snow.
A fitting connected to the tank – ruptured from the snow load – leaked approximately 50 gallons of the heavy, colorless gas through the snow and into the neighboring house. Rinella said the snow “scrubbed out” the rotten-egg-scented odorant added to propane.
The investigation of the explosion is almost complete.
Rinella said this incident can serve as a lesson for propane users.
“We encourage folks to keep their propane tanks clear of snow,” he said. “Be sure and dig them out.”