Fire and explosions at Blossman Propane Gas and Appliance at Highway 5 and Bankhead Highway rocked Douglasville Thursday night, but fortunately no one was injured.
Multiple explosions could be heard and the massive flames shooting upward as propane tanks blew up could be seen from downtown Douglasville and around the area.
Rick Martin, spokesman for Douglas County, said the explosions continued when firefighters arrived on the scene shortly after the first calls were received around 8:39 p.m. Thursday.
Douglas County Fire Company 10, Company 11, Engine 2 and Company 5 along with units 441, 401 and 402 responded to battle the blaze.
Several businesses nearby were evacuated “out of an abundance of caution,” Martin said. And the Douglasville Police Department and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office blocked Highway 5 off from Highway 78 south to Gurley Road shortly after first responders arrived. The road reopened about 12:15 a.m. Friday, Martin said.
Douglas County Firefighters returned to the scene Friday morning to investigate the cause of the fire, Martin said. All investigators agree that the fire appears to be accidental, according to Martin.
“After a joint fire scene examination and witness interviews, all fire investigators agree that a fuel air explosion occurred at ground level under an open-air pole barn propane transfer station,” Martin said. “At the time of the explosion, an employee was refilling 143-33 pound bottles on the rear of a flatbed truck from a 29,000 gallon tank. After the initial explosion occurred and the fire was burning, additional fuel air explosions could be seen and heard as other bottles exploded.”
Explosion proof electrical junctions, flow valves and spark proof nozzles were in place and could be eliminated as ignition sources, according to Martin. Fluorescent lighting was eliminated as a cause. Investigators have also ruled out cigarette smoking as a possible cause.
The potential for a static electric charge caused by human motion or positive pressure gas flow rapidly igniting fugitive propane cannot be ruled out, Martin said Friday.
“The fire is ruled accidental,” Martin said. “Early damage (is) estimated to exceed $400,000.”
Martin said the actual building the business is housed in suffered only minor damage.
Scott Weatherford, director of Safety and Compliance, Blossman Gas, issued a statement Friday morning:
“At approximately 8:45 p.m, EDT on November 2nd, there was an isolated fire at our Douglasville, GA location. There were no reported injuries and the fire is now extinguished. We are in the process of assessing the cause and coordinating with local authorities. Blossman Gas personnel are on scene and we would like to commend and thank all emergency response personnel who were there.”