LEE TOWNSHIP (June 16, 2014) –Two people are recovering after being engulfed in flames in a propane flash while working with a propane tank, according to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department. It happened on Baseline Road near 60th Streetaround 8 p.m. Sunday.
The family asked to remain anonymous, but the man who was injured was wrapped in bandages covering his arms, hands, and head as he talked to FOX 17. He said that he learned his lesson when he was hooking up his propane tank to his camper’s water heater. He didn’t realize the gas line was disconnected from the water tank, and when he lit the pilot light, there was a burst of flame.
“A propane flash would be an escape of propane into the air, in open air situations, with an ignition source which causes the propane to burn suddenly,” explained Fire Chief Cal Haverdink, with the Graafschap Fire Department.
Before using propane tanks this summer, Chief Haverdink said, it’s important to make sure a propane tank isn’t leaking.
“When you change propane tanks, or when you initially get your grill out, you’ll want to turn the propane on. I suggest taking a bottle of soapy water and spraying all of your connections, make sure you have no propane leaks.”
Also important, the chief said, is to not fill a propane tank completely. It can build pressure and cause a propane flash, or worse, an explosion.
“If a propane tank stands out in the hot sun and it’s way too full, that pressure’s got to go somewhere, so it will pop out that pressure relief valve. You don’t want the tank exploding,” added Chief Haverdink.
The Lee Township man said he’d like this incident to serve as a warning to anybody working with propane. The next time you try to hook up a propane tank to a large appliance, he said, make sure you’re working with a professional.