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Man receives minor burns in propane explosion

Sat., Jan. 26, 2008

People were mostly lucky in 196 incidents in which the Spokane Valley Fire Department was called in the seven days that ended Wednesday.

Especially the man who suffered only singed hair and first-degree burns on his hands and face when a propane explosion destroyed his fifth-wheel trailer.

“It blew him right out the door,” fire Inspector Bill Clifford said.

The victim was working inside the trailer at 523 S. University Road about 3:20 p.m. Tuesday when he smelled propane and flipped an electrical switch that sparked the explosion, Clifford said.

The explosion, the fire that followed and efforts to put out the fire left the trailer a total loss, Clifford said.

He said a duplex at 1723 N. Walnut Road sustained about $15,000 worth of damage shortly after noon Tuesday when one of two occupants put some food on the stove and left the home after getting a telephone call.

The other occupant was awakened by the cooking-fire smoke – not by the only smoke detector in the home, which was in the basement and out of order, Clifford said.

Four other structure fires were minor. They included a chimney fire and a fire caused by a malfunctioning furnace.

Firefighters also responded to 14 calls triggered by alarm systems, mostly related to burned food or weather-related broken water pipes. But two were valid alarms from carbon monoxide detectors in homes, Clifford said.

Faulty furnaces were to blame for both carbon monoxide alarms. The poisonous gas had reached a “quite high” level in one case, but no one was hurt, Clifford said.

A hazardous materials investigation at a home also turned out to be a furnace problem – a dirty filter.

Seven general service calls included a couple of frozen and broken water pipes and three lockouts. In two cases, people accidentally locked their infants in vehicles. In the third lockout, two people accidentally locked themselves out of their home when they stepped outside for a smoke.

In addition to 141 medical emergencies, firefighters responded to 26 vehicle accidents in which seven people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries.

Given so much fodder for safety tips, Clifford settled on these: Slow down when the roads are this bad, give furnaces regular maintenance and don’t leave the kitchen when you cook – or at least use a timer.


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