Propane tank ignites; Cheshire RV resident, outside at time, ‘very lucky’ to be alive | The Berkshire Eagle

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By Scott Stafford, The Berkshire Eagle

CHESHIRE — A man is “very lucky” to be alive after the RV he lives in exploded just a few minutes after he left to investigate a strange smell.

According to Cheshire Fire Chief Tom Francesconi, the caller to 911 at 8:06 p.m. Friday described a fully involved house with explosions.

When the first firefighters arrived, the explosion had caused the RV to become completely engulfed in flames, and they started to burn a house a few feet away.

It later was determined by the State Fire Marshal investigator that a 20-pound propane tank mounted under the RV had ignited and exploded, Francesconi said, but the source of the ignition could not be determined.

There were two other propane tanks. A 250-gallon propane tank was so close to the fire between the house and the RV that its safety valve released and the escaping gas ignited, sending flames in two directions — toward the house and toward the RV. So, firefighters had to keep the hose on the tank to keep it from exploding. Once that was secure, they started working on the house, where the fire already had invaded the attic.

They had started moving inside the house when another 20-pound propane tank exploded near the RV, Francesconi said.

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The resident of the RV, David Willett, was uninjured.

Francesconi said Willett was in the RV when he smelled something and heard a hissing noise. So, he went outside to look around for the source, and when he turned around, he heard an explosion and saw a huge fireball engulf the RV he just had been sitting in.

“He was very lucky he went out to check the property,” Francesconi said. “Very lucky.”

There were no injuries. The house, a single-story wood frame built in the mid-1900s, serves as a summer home and already had been winterized and the utilities shut off. It, too, was a total loss, Francesconi said.

He noted that the displaced Willett initially would be staying with friends or family.

Aiding in the response were firefighters from Adams, Lanesborough, Savoy and Adams Ambulance. The Dalton Fire Department covered Cheshire during the response.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.

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