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House Fire in Glen Arm, MD- possibly caused by propane tank explosion

Steamhead
Steamhead Member Posts: 14,853
I saw the smoke from this, coming back from a job. Another reason to hate propane. Fortunately no one was hurt.

https://www.wbaltv.com/article/glen-arm-house-fire/32962383
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Comments

  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,001
    My guess is UV damaged and cracked propane lines in the grill.
    I was talking to a client of mine from Florida, the fire department there checks the balconies on high rise buildings with binoculars and issues citations to people with propane grills.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,972
    An overfilled tank in the sun will vent is a possibility or rotten hose/ loose fitting. You are supposed to shut the tank valve off after each use. I am sure that does not happen.

    I smelled LP in my house once, it was a grill tank overfilled by an eager beaver. Tank outside a close-to-floor window was venting.
    Just seeping out quietly......carried it away and opened valve to relieve pressure.

    They are safer than they used to be;
    New tank/regulator design. No tools needed to tighten.
    You can not trade in the old design of tank.

    No LP to NG or back again burner change over kits available....anyway that is what I tell people who ask.

    My business insurance specifically states NO LPG Work covered.
    That is scary as I have done several LP houses years ago. None now.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,991
    Maybe the hoses should be something more durable than synthetic rubber. I think the requirement of the opd valves varies by state.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,972
    Other things such as burner on with flame out and cover down,
    always interested in the details but once the drama of fire is over then little info released.
    mattmia2
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,991
    i learned about opening the cover when you light it the hard way. I was having trouble lighting the match and by the time I got my mom quite a bot of gas had collected, so technically she learned for me...
  • HVACNUT
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,209
    Had one in West Islip NY this morning as well. Driver burned top half of his body. Not a good scene.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,853
    edited June 2020
    This might have been a much bigger tank. It's just far enough up the country that the natural gas mains don't go that far, unless something has changed recently. Neither do the water mains, which is why the fire department (mostly volunteers in this area) had to call for a tanker strike force. We've worked near there and the boilers we've seen are oil-fired.

    A larger tank might also explain why the fire spread as quickly as it did.

    Still waiting on the fire marshal's report.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • motoguy128
    motoguy128 Member Posts: 380
    JUGHNE said:

    Other things such as burner on with flame out and cover down,
    always interested in the details but once the drama of fire is over then little info released.

    This always frustrates me. We live in a small town with a lot of older homes and poverty. As such there are a lot of fires It seems, but the cause is rarely published conspicuously in the news later.

    Most causes are shoddy DIY electrical work, overloaded circuits/oversized fuses. But it would be nice to know. We see a ton of it, especially in rentals.

    THere’s a ton of propane homes in rural areas here. We do a lot of work with propane. Never seemed any more hazardous than natural gas to me. We often recommend switching to propane for heating since electric rates have gotten so high in our area.

    Heck, I work on a dozen sketchy electric furnaces for every scary propane furnace I see. I guess at least electric furnaces have breakers to shut them down when things go wrong.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,991
    i live in a college town and when I do find out about the cause of a fire, even though they have ancient electrical and mechanical systems, the cause usually seems to be something like someone put a candle under some curtains or put a pan of oil on the stove on high and left the room or some other form of user error.
  • Codetalker
    Codetalker Member Posts: 1
    edited August 31
    Good thing no one suffered. Actually, the explosion of a propane tank is the most common cause of fires. I say this from my own experience, I work at https://firerecruitmentaustralia.com.au , and we often face such cases. The first thing that would cause a propane tank explosion would be if the pressure relief valve is damaged and won’t open. These tanks will usually only blow if they don’t vent sufficiently, so the vent system is critical. My advice to avoid such situations is to store any unused tanks away from structures and fuels and never overfill a propane tank as this could cause venting on a hot day.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 10,355
    I have always worked in MA & CT which have fairly strict codes. Not that there is not shoddy work done around here ...there is.

    But in other parts of the country I am horrified by some jobs.

    Check out "Anti Diy HVAC" on you tube if you wan't to see the crap this guy runs into. Shoddy electrical and gas.

    As far as I am concerned CSST should be outlawed. Gas is too hazardous to use with such a cheap inferior material
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,853

    As far as I am concerned CSST should be outlawed. Gas is too hazardous to use with such a cheap inferior material

    This!
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
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  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,111
    What is the difference between a CSST connector and whatever is used for a gas stove?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,853
    Installation where it is accessible, shorter length, permanently installed coupling nuts.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    mattmia2SlamDunk
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,111
    Googled it. But My eye isnt catching the difference. I was just wondering why CSST gets slammed but not gas stoves connectors. They look the same to me.
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,991
    The chances that something will happen to a 3' section are a lot less than the chances that something will happen somewhere in 100' or more. The location near the appliance that is grounded reduces some of the lightning issues. The likely hood of the gas connector running past some other metallic system or structural element that might arc to it during a lightning strike is much lower than with a tube running through a basement/crawlspace/wall/attic. Gas connectors have gone from uncoated brass to coated brass to coated stainless steel.

    There are also connectors with excess flow devices that may shut off the gas if the connector is broken.
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,111
    Ohhhhhh! So, csst can be used in place of black pipe for long runs. I was looking at the 24" yellow jacketed flex line to my hot water heater wondering what is so dangerous about that?
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,853
    SlamDunk said:

    Ohhhhhh! So, csst can be used in place of black pipe for long runs. I was looking at the 24" yellow jacketed flex line to my hot water heater wondering what is so dangerous about that?

    Sloppy work to install a water heater that way, unless the local inspectors demand it. Show up with a proper assortment of nipples and fittings and the result is a much neater and durable job.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
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    Consulting
    SlamDunk
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,972
    IIRC, appliance connectors are not only more durable than CSST but approved for use on an appliance that may be move in and out occasionally for cleaning and service.
    CSST is for a permanently installed appliance such as water heater or furnace that will not be moved.

    Maybe in earthquake areas appliance connectors are required for stationary appliances. Also on hanging radiant heaters that swing in the wind and expand and contract with heating.

    I have noticed that when changing ranges and dryers the I&O sometimes states that the appliance connector must be changed out at the same time.

    Most of the time when the stationary appliances are finished off with CSST it is just a git er done and go job. I don't believe you can run CSST into a furnace behind the door. This is from what I read here...have seen it all done though, just part of the hack job.

    Contractor who lives on a lighting prone hill told me he pulled into his shop and could smell something burning. His hanging heater was piped with CSST and there was a tall flame coming from the tubing. Lighting had gotten into it, blew out a pinhole and ignited the escaping gas. At least it was a burn off well below the ceiling. Could have been much worse.
    This would not be a good day if in a basement just below the floor joists.

  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,991
    JUGHNE said:


    I have noticed that when changing ranges and dryers the I&O sometimes states that the appliance connector must be changed out at the same time.

    Part of this is probably sheer age, part of it is probably that ss and brass both work harden with years of vibration and trying to reshape it after that is especially not the best idea.
    JUGHNE
  • Bob Harper
    Bob Harper Member Posts: 882
    If a 20lb LP DOT cylinder "exploded" the house would not still be standing. There was ignition in the vicinity of the BBQ on the deck and it's under investigation. No useful purpose to conjecture. Not sure how this evolved into a CSST bash-fest. If you have evidence the second generation CSST with shielding suffered failures from lightning or any other cause it is your duty to report it to the CPSC. If there was a problem with flexible appliance connectors listed to ANSI z21.24 it would be pulled from the market. I've discussed these connectors with Ted Lemoff at NFPA 54 Cmte. and no major reported problems he's aware of. I am aware of many leaks with NPT pipe made of high grade Chineseum, key valves, and other fittings, appliances and equipment.
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,853

    If a 20lb LP DOT cylinder "exploded" the house would not still be standing. There was ignition in the vicinity of the BBQ on the deck and it's under investigation. No useful purpose to conjecture. Not sure how this evolved into a CSST bash-fest. If you have evidence the second generation CSST with shielding suffered failures from lightning or any other cause it is your duty to report it to the CPSC. If there was a problem with flexible appliance connectors listed to ANSI z21.24 it would be pulled from the market. I've discussed these connectors with Ted Lemoff at NFPA 54 Cmte. and no major reported problems he's aware of. I am aware of many leaks with NPT pipe made of high grade Chineseum, key valves, and other fittings, appliances and equipment.

    If you choose to accept the liability, fine. Others do not.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,978
    BBQ tanks should always be shutoff when not in use.

    The same with NG grills, the valve supplying the hose should be shut off.
    Obviously the hoses should be kept in good condition and should be looked at occasionally.

    I do not have an opinion on CSST other than I've continued to use black iron in my own home.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment