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Propane tank raises fears in barn fire

March 5, 2010

COLUMBIANA - A pole building on Crestview Road burned to the ground Thursday afternoon, but a large propane tank near the building could have made the situation much worse.

The fire broke out around 2 p.m. at 41149 Crestview Road in Fairfield Township. Firefighters had the blaze under control within the hour, but the building was reduced to about a half-dozen charred poles jutting up into the air with assorted black rubble in between.

The homeowner's last name was recorded as Lannerman on the 911 log, but his full name was unavailable Thursday evening.

Article Photos

A New Waterford firefighter puts water on the rubble of a pole barn that burned on Crestview Road in Fairfield Township. Firefighters’ biggest concern was making sure a nearby propane tank did not explode. (Salem News photo by J.D. Creer)

Fire departments in Columbiana, Leetonia and New Waterford each responded to the scene with a tanker truck and an engine as well as multiple firefighters.

Columbiana Fire Captain Frank Nulf believes the building will be ruled a total loss, but that will be up to the insurance company to determine.

The department had not determined the official cause of the fire Thursday evening.

While no one was injured in the fire, a large, cylindrical propane tank about 50 feet from the burning building could produced a large enough explosion to level the property.

Such tanks are designed to vent some gas when they overheat, letting off a tall flame that lasts until the venting ends, Nulf explained. But if the venting mechanics were to malfunction, the ensuing explosion would have been devastating.

"The tank that was there could have made a big enough hole in the ground to cover the entire property," he said.

There were other propane tanks Nulf estimated at about 20 pounds each on the property, but they were situated farther from the building.

Nulf also commented that his department was short on manpower during the daylight shift, but having the three departments work in tandem helped make up for the lack of personnel at each department.

"Every department has that during the day," he described staffing at the volunteer fire departments.

Among the pole building's contents was a vehicle, which was destroyed along with the building.

The owner was on the scene along with firefighters but declined comment.



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