A house that exploded and caught fire earlier this month in the Rafter J subdivision was the result of a propane leak in the garage, said Karola Hanks, fire marshal with the Durango Fire Protection District.
The gas line went to a furnace and a water heater, she said. It is unknown if the leak occurred in the line itself or one of the appliances, Hanks said.
Propane is heavier than air, which means it filled the garage floor and became flammable after reaching a certain density. The furnace or the water heater provided the ignition source, Hanks said.
“It’s that time of year and we’re all starting to fire up furnaces and do all those things,” she said. “In doing that, we want to make sure all those fittings and connections are operating correctly, especially when we have natural gas or propane involved in those items.”
The explosion occurred about 10 a.m. Sept. 14 in the 100 block of Ridge Road, southwest of Durango.
David and Mandy Minton were pulling into their driveway with plants they had recently purchased to plant in an island in front of the house. They stopped short of the house to unload the plants, she said. They heard a “muffled boom” that blew the garage door outward about 10 to 15 feet, according to David Minton, at the time.
They had not activated the garage door, Hanks said.
“I don’t always believe in coincidence, but in this case, it was just coincidence,” she said.
Flames in the corner of the garage quickly spread and engulfed the home.
Hanks said the home is, for the most part, a total loss; anything that can be saved will have significant smoke damage.
Two dogs were unharmed in the fire. A cat was missing but later found to be safe, Hanks said.
Hanks noted that flames caught the grass on fire in the island in front of the house – an indication of how dry conditions have become.
“We’ve had good moisture earlier in the year,” she said. “(But) we didn’t get our monsoons like we would have hoped.”