Propane leak suspected in Old Town house fire

Paul Bickford/NNSL photo
Smoke and flames rise from a burning house in Old Town on Aug. 16.

A residence in Old Town was seriously damaged by fire on the evening of Aug. 16 in a blaze that is believed to have been caused by a propane leak.

Fire Chief Ross Potter said the house – a building onto which numerous additions were made over the years – is a “complete loss.”

After the fire was extinguished, a large hole could be seen in the roof of the building.

Potter said he is not sure of the cost of the damage.

Speaking last week, the fire chief said an investigation into the fire is underway.

However, he said the suspected cause of the fire was a propane leak.

“They could smell it the day before, but didn’t think anything of it,” he said of the occupants of the house. “And then they could hear the leak.”

Potter said some of the occupants apparently moved a dryer to find the leak or to stop the leak from happening, and the propane ignited.

“I would suggest there was a small explosion,” said Potter, noting that any number of things could have actually caused the ignition.

Some of the occupants sustained minor burns, he noted. “Singeing of hair and that type of thing, but extremely minor.”

The fire chief doesn’t know how many people were living at the residence at the time of the fire.

Members of the Hay River Fire Department were dispatched to the fire at about 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 16 and were on scene for four or five hours.

Potter said, in cases of suspected propane leaks, homeowners are advised to immediately contact either the gas company or the fire department.