Fire burns outbuilding, misses propane tank

Published 9:19 am Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A fire destroyed an outbuilding at a home on the Elizabethton Highway Monday afternoon, but the Elizabethton Fire Department was able to contain the blaze before it did even more damage.

The EFD responded to the fire at 2618 Elizabethton Highway at 1:23 p.m. Monday. Once on the scene, firefighters discovered the flames were getting dangerously close to a propane tank near the outbuilding.

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“The fire almost got to the propane tank,” EFD Capt. Rusty Barnett said. “It was getting hot. We had a hose on the scene just for the tank, and when the water hit it, the tank would just steam and sizzle. Thankfully, we got it cooled off and got the fire out and it did not get any worse.”

When the flames were extinguished, a burned trail of grass remained leading from the remains of the outbuilding to the propane tank, marked with black soot marks. The EFD tested the tank with a combustible gas meter and found no leaks coming from it.

“Sometimes they have vapors, and the fire will follow those and it will draw it right to the tank,” Barnett said. “This tank was tested and it showed no leaks. The wind was blowing in that direction so it looks like that is what brought the flames over there.”

The fire quickly claimed the 20-foot by 20-foot outbuilding, which was a complete loss in a matter of minutes. Firefighters could hear small explosions coming from inside the building, which was later determined to be smaller propane and gas cans that were inside, Barnett said.

The outbuilding was also hooked to electricity, which was cut off to the home and the building.

After talking to the owner, who was not at home when the fire started, and doing a scene investigation, the EFD determined the fire started after a fire from a nearby garbage burn barrel spread to the building when winds increased in the afternoon.