Report of gas smells prevents potential home explosion in Ellison Bay

Published: Dec. 6, 2018 at 10:16 PM CST
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The Sister Bay/Liberty Grove Fire Department reminds people to stay aware of gas smells after a homeowner in Ellison Bay nearly lost her home to a gas explosion.

A person passing by the area of Mink River Road reported a strong smell of gas before 9 a.m. on Thursday, November 29.

Firefighters responded to the scene located near the site of a deadly explosion that happened more than a decade ago. They found an empty propane tank on a nearby property.

"We had two gas detectors with us at the time and were able to find very high explosive initial gas readings upon opening the door," said Lt. Billy Appel with the Sister Bay/Liberty Grove Fire Department.

Appel says the ratio of oxygen to gas levels in the air exceeded the level in which explosions can happen.

"In order to ventilate that house, we do have to bring it back down through that explosive range where things could happen," said Appel. "So, it does elevate that response. Makes things a little bit high stress."

The call brought back memories of the 2006 explosion for some of the firefighters.

"I think anything dealing with propane hits home for those members after dealing with that call," said Appel.

After the fatal explosion that rocked Ellison Bay more than a decade ago, Sister Bay/Liberty Grove Fire Chief Chris Hecht says the investigation showed that people in the area smelled gas in the days leading up to the explosion. He says if someone would have said something, it might have changed the outcome of the explosion that killed two people and injured twelve more.

"If we can prevent what happened in Ellison Bay more than a decade ago, anytime we can prevent that is a huge win," said Appel.

A home is still standing on Mink River Road all because somebody followed, "Smell something, Say something."

"By contacting us, we will get out there. We'll investigate. Hopefully, it's nothing," said Appel. "If it is something, hopefully we can stabilize, deescalate the incident and make sure no property is destroyed and lives are protected."

Appel reminds people who smell anything suspicious to report it by calling 911, the local fire department, or non-emergency line at the Door County Sheriff's Office.

He asks homeowners to remain vigilant with monitoring their gas systems, gas fueled appliances, and propane tanks to prevent any dangerous situations.