MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

February 1, 2014

Fire sets off propane tank blasts at trailer park

10 mobile homes destroyed; four damaged

EUFAULA — Residents spent Saturday cleaning up after 10 mobile homes were destroyed and four were confirmed damaged in an explosive fire Friday at the Twin Rivers Estates mobile home park.

“When this tank blew, it shot up through like a meteor shower,” said Helen Snider, one of the residents.

Six fire departments responded about 7:30 p.m. Friday to the blaze at the park, on  Oklahoma 150 just east of U.S. 69.

James Simmons, the southeastern agent supervisor in the Oklahoma Fire Marshal’s office investigated the scene Saturday morning.

“It was determined the fire that actually began was of accidental nature, but extended to trailers next door,” Simmons said. “The heat from both of those caused a ‘BLEVE’ explosion.”

Simmons said “BLEVE” stands for boiling liquid evaporation vapor explosion.

Kathy Travis was inside her mobile home when she heard a loud noise.

“I heard something that sounded like sheet metal,” she said. “I looked outside and could see this glow.”

The mobile home two lots away from hers was on fire.

“It was fully engulfed,” she said.

“When the propane tank went, it looked like a fireworks display.”

Travis alerted her husband, Al Travis, who immediately got a water hose and began to water down their mobile home.

“My husband was on the roof with a water hose. He fell off, but he’s OK,” Kathy Travis said.

“I called 911 three different times,” Travis said. “The lady said she had three units headed out, and I said, ‘You better have three companies.’”

Fire Chief B. Jackson of the Fountainhead Improvement Council Volunteer Fire Department said the fire was difficult because of its location.

“We rolled with two tankers and two brush trucks. We couldn’t back trucks up. I went down one of the gold course lanes,” Jackson said.

Considering the obstacles of finding room to reach the mobile homes, Jackson was satisfied with his firefighters:

“I think we did a good job.”

Simmons said the propane blast sparked other fires to several mobile homes to the east.

“The debris from that explosion apparently ignited the other fires. It blew the ends of that tank. Pieces of the tank went approximately 130 yards from the point of explosion,” he said.

Kevin Walker, another resident of the mobile home park, said the blast blew pieces of tank onto his home.

“It blew a piece of propane tank 150 feet. One ended up on top of my carport here,” he said.

Walker and others tried to make sure the area was safe from any more propane explosions.

“We went around pulling propane bottles out of every grill we could find,” he said.

A firefighter injured his hand, but was treated on-site. Al Travis was not treated for his fall. No other injuries were reported.

Simmons didn’t have a estimate for damages because many of the mobile homes’  owners stay in them only on weekends or during the summer.

“It will be some time, I’m sure, before we will get to hear from them about damages,” Simmons said.

Reach E.I. Hillin at (918) 684-2926 or ehillin@muskogeephoenix.com.

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