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Truckee residents advised to clear propane tanks of snow and ice

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 4:26 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Back in 2011 Truckee Fire Department responded to a home on Bales Drive destroyed by an explosion. Investigators would find it was caused by leaking propane inside the house.

Six years later another home would suffer the same fate. Again from propane escaping from a leaking valve or gauge off of a tank.

Truckee resident Tom Drezler is all too familiar with the stories. He’s elevated the propane tank next to his house. But with the snowpack what it is, he must use a ladder to scrape the snow off the top.

It seems like a lot of work, but the alternatives are more so.

“It’s hard to get enough wood that is accessible,” he says

He’s taken other precautions like setting an area outside of the home specifically to keep propane lines free of snow.

Propane tanks are marked by tall yellow wooden sticks which sit next to homes.

Some people have buried their propane tank so they just have to keep the lid clear. Others however have not been as diligent, and the snow has covered the top of the tank’s gauges and valves.

“ says Matt Parkhurst, Truckee Fire Division Operations Chief.

Chief Parkhurst says with a record snow fall in and around Truckee last month, it’s easy to understand the sheer weight of snow can push the top of the tank out of whack. He says over time with more snow and ice, he’s even seen the tanks themselves being pushed off their mounts by the sheer weight of the elements.

Propane can make its way inside the home and will smell like rotten eggs. That’s a warning sign. But Parkhurst says snow can alter that smell to a musty odor. If you walk by or in a house which emits either of those odors call 911.

For local residents who live next to a house where the propane tank looks precarious, action can be taken.

The City of Truckee has set up a phone number for residents to call if a rental home has fallen behind on maintaining a propane tank for the winter.

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