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Propane tanks explode during fire at Richmond filling station

Firefighters battle fire at propane filling station in Richmond
Posted at 12:05 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 12:43:32-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond Firefighters battled a fire at a propane filling station Tuesday morning, after some of the propane tanks inside the storage and filling facility exploded.

Richmond Fire Battalion Chief, Mark Wagner, said the call came in for the fire around 6 a.m. -- initially for another address -- but when crews arrived to Massey, Wood and West Heat and Propane on Westwood Ave., they reported fire showing through the back windows of the building and heavy smoke in the air.

Wagner said when fire crews got on scene, they began attacking the fire from the outside.

"There was partial building collapse due to the high heat from the gas, so all operations were done from the outside of the building," said Wagner.

He said their first priority, was making sure the fire didn't continue to spread since there were hundreds of propane cylinders outside the building.

"Not knowing if they’re full or not, our biggest concern was the fire extending out to the parking lot or getting to any of those additional tanks and causing more problems in that area. So, our first concern was isolating the fire to the building and not letting it spread," Wagner said. "Every company that was on scene had a Handline cooling tank in one angle or another."

He said several of the tanks inside the building did explode -- but at the time there was no way of knowing how many.

"The gas inside the tanks will start heating up and it gets to the point where the container cannot hold the pressure anymore -- it’s called a bleve," Wagner said.

He said fire crews got the fire under control in about an hour, and no one was hurt.

The warehouse that was destroyed was part of a complex of about four other buildings. None of the other buildings were damaged.

Wagner said the cause of the fire is still being investigated.