Fire marshal: Underground propane tank leak led to Sterling house explosion

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. (DC News Now) — The Loudoun County Fire and Rescue’s Fire Marshal’s Office finished its on-site investigation into what caused the home explosion in Sterling on Friday.

Preliminary investigations show that the home at 347 Silver Ridge Dr. exploded on Feb. 16 due to a leak from a 500-gallon underground propane tank. The leak from the uncontained propane then headed into and around the home before it was ignited by an unknown source.

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The cause of the explosion was still being looked into — a news release said that this was an “extremely complex investigation.”

The explosion injured 14 people and left one firefighter dead. As of one week later, one firefighter was still being treated in the hospital in stable condition.

At least six other homes were also damaged by the explosion with three being deemed as unsafe to live in. The initial damages were estimated to be a total of $2.5 million, according to the news release.

In light of this, the Loudoun County Combined Fire-Rescue System (LC-CFRS) is encouraging all residents to be safe when handling propane by following these tips:

  • Have your propane system and appliances installed, inspected, serviced and repaired by your propane retailer or a qualified professional.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and understand the warnings concerning the system and appliances.

  • Avoid running out of propane as that may create a serious safety hazard. An inspection is likely required to be completed by your retailer or a qualified professional before turning the gas back on.

  • Know where underground gas lines and tanks are located.

  • Protect your regulator from the elements or insects by keeping it well covered.

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LC-CFRS said to identify a propane leak, listen for a hissing or blowing sound. If the air smells like a rotten-egg-like odor, look for blowing dirt and dead or dying plant life.

If you smell or suspect a gas leak, get away and call 911 and your propane retailer and wait for emergency crews to arrive. Do not go back into the building until a professional tells you it is safe to do so.

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