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Trailer fire stemmed from propane tank

A quick call from a passing motorcyclist helped prevent a propane tank fire from causing serious damage at a Sills Road property on Wednesday.

The propane tank was hooked up to a travel trailer, but Fire District 3 Deputy Chief Mike Cotton said no one was inside.

The fire was reported about 5 p.m. June 29, on Sills Road near Hugh Taylor Lane, by a passing motorcyclist. The rider stopped, called 911 and turned around and went back the property to warn the residents of a nearby home.

The tanks were mounted on the tongue of the trailer. Only one of the tanks was venting propane, but was burning "like a blow torch," Cotton said. A plastic awning about four feet above the tanks was undamaged because of the wind's direction.

"Damage was extremely minimal," Cotton said. "However, it could have been a total loss. It was blowing away from the trailer."

Cotton said the dozen firefighters at the scene determined the best course was to let the propane tank burn out. Firefighters cooled the tanks by putting water on them to prevent them from exploding.

"We were very lucky," Cotton said. "The wind could have changed and we'd be looking at the shell or ashes of an RV."

The fire, mop-up and investigation lasted about 90 minutes.

The cause of the blaze is undetermined and damage was limited to the tank's valve, regulator and the trailer's electrical towing cables. Cotton estimated the damage to cost about $1,000.

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