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HomeLocal / Area NewsOfficials stress safety after gas leak fires injure 4 Montgomery County residents

Officials stress safety after gas leak fires injure 4 Montgomery County residents

Two separate fires in three days due to leaking uncapped gas lines, fires
destroy one home and damage another
.

Officials stress safety after gas leak fires injure 4 Montgomery County residents. Two separate fires in three days due to leaking uncapped gas lines, fires  destroy one home and damage another. Investigators from the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding two separate residential fires this week that left 4 area residents in the hospital with burn injuries.

The first incident occurred Friday night in Porter when a leaking gas line inside a mobile home on Sandy Lane ignited a fire that destroyed the home and seriously injured two of it’s residents. Two men, age 62 and 69, had noticed a gas leak and were attempting to locate it when the gas ignited, setting fire to the home. The resulting fire destroyed the home and left both with serious 2nd and 3rd degree burns.

The 69-year-old resident was the most severely injured, receiving burns to his upper body and face. Both were transported to the Memorial Hermann Burn Center in Houston. MCFMO Investigators traced the fire back to an uncapped gas line that had been used for a gas heater in the past. The valve on the uncapped line was leaking allowing gas to enter the home through.

The second fire occurred Monday afternoon southwest of Magnolia when a flash fire enveloped the laundry room of a home on Penguin St. The initial flash fire and resulting pressure blew out some of the home’s windows but did not ignite any other combustible items and self-extinguished prior to the arrival of Magnolia Firefighters. The couple who live in the home, both 66-years-old, received significant burn injuries. They were treated on scene by Firefighters and EMS and transported to the Burn Center in stable condition. MCFMO Investigators also traced this fire back to an uncapped gas line, this time to a gas line in the laundry room behind the washer and dryer.

Many homes are equipped for both gas and electric dryers in their laundry room. In this case, the residents were using an electric dryer, but the gas line meant for a gas dryer was not capped and began leaking when the washing machine vibrated against the gas valve, causing it to open and fill the laundry room with gas. With the approach of cooler temperatures and the peak home winter fire season, now is the time to take precautions to keep your family safe.

First and foremost, make sure your home has working smoke detectors in every bedroom, living room and hallway. In homes equipped with gas appliances, make sure that any unused gas lines are capped off. Gas appliances should only be serviced by trained professionals and a licensed plumber should be called if you need repairs or changes made to your home’s gas piping system.

Homes equipped with gas appliances should also have a carbon monoxide detector on each level of the home and you may want to consider purchasing a combination unit that detects both gas leaks and carbon monoxide. These combination detectors can be purchased at most home improvement stores and can be plugged in directly to wall outlet. Most are also equipped with battery backup in the event of a power failure.

Officials stress safety after a series of gas related fires. In the wake of the most recent gas fires, and previous home explosions in the Willis and Dobbin areas, many Montgomery County residents may have concerns about the safe use of propane in their homes. With proper safety procedures and routine maintenance propane and natural gas can be safe alternative fuels, but when these precautions are not followed, the results can be catastrophic.

In suburban and rural Texas, propane is an everyday part of our lives. Unlike cities which have natural gas systems, many residents in Montgomery County rely on propane (sometimes called LPG or LP-gas) to heat their water, homes and cook their meals. Propane is transported in trucks and stored as a liquid in tanks on rural property and the flammable vapors are piped into each home and gas fired appliance. In its natural state, propane is a colorless and odorless gas. Since propane is odorless, it is intentionally odorized so leaks can be detected. The odor is similar to rotten eggs. Propane differs from natural gas in that its vapors are heavier than air and may accumulate in low-lying areas such as basements and ditches or along floors. Propane is flammable when mixed with air (oxygen) and can be ignited by many different sources.
If your home uses either natural gas or LPG, it should be equipped with a carbon monoxide detector on each floor. You may want to consider purchasing a dual purpose detector designed to alert you to either a build-up of carbon monoxide or a gas leak. These dual purpose units are generally available in the smoke detector aisle of most major hardware and home improvement stores.

Maintenance on your propane system:
• Never modify or repair your propane system yourself. Ask your propane supplier to send a trained technician to do the work.
• If an appliance or any other component of your propane system has been tagged “out-of-service,” do not attempt to enable it. The tag indicates a serious unsafe condition.
• If an appliance has been added to or removed from your system, contact your supplier so that a technician can perform a required leak test.
• Ask your propane supplier to conduct a gas safety check to inspect your system for leaks and ensure it meets all applicable safety standards. The technician will also check your tank, piping, regulators, gauges, connectors, valves, vents, thermostats, pilots, burners and appliance controls to make sure they are in good working condition.

Lighting pilots on appliances
• Notify your propane supplier immediately if you have a problem lighting a pilot.
• Never attempt to modify or repair the gas control valves or any other component of a gas appliance.
• Never light a pilot if you smell gas.
• If you continue to smell gas, even after lighting a pilot, turn off the gas valve immediately upstream of the appliance to stop the flow of gas. Contact your propane supplier immediately to investigate the situation.
• In most situations it is best to have a trained technician light the pilots on your appliances
The dangers of uncapped lines
• Leaks that occur from open lines are extremely dangerous due to the potential for a large volume of gas to be released over a short period of time.
• All lines not attached to appliances must be closed and terminated with threaded caps or plugs. If you have any questions, please call your propane supplier.
For more information please go to our website www.mctx.org/fire or like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MCFMO
For more information on LPG safety please go to the Texas Railroad Commission
http://altenergy.rrc.state.tx.us/safety-noflash.php

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