BIG SKY – On Jan. 6 at 2:30 p.m. the Big Sky fire Department was dispatched to a vehicle fire on U.S. Highway 191 at the Kenyon Noble concrete batch plant. While en route, crews were notified of an explosion involving a propane truck at the same location.
When they arrived, the propane truck was fully engulfed, a nearby 1,000-gallon propane tank was venting flames and a second 1,000-gallon tank was compromised and exhuming a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion or “BLEVE,” according to a Big Sky Fire Department press release.
Big Sky Fire worked with the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Department to evacuate a half-mile zone around the propane tanks and close Highway 191. Using large water portable ground monitors, Big Sky Fire crews were able to extinguish the fire quickly.
An investigation concluded that the driver of the initial truck had slid on some ice while maneuvering to fill the two stationary propane tanks, damaged the mainline and vaporizer and igniting the initial vehicle fire. The driver was unable to move his vehicle off the gas line and was able to run inside to alert occupants of the Kenyon Martin building before the initial explosion.
Highway 191 was closed for 45 minutes, no one was injured during the incident and the area around the tanks and building only suffered moderate damage.
“A rapid initial response and mutual aid from neighboring departments showed again how effective our county mutual aid system is,” noted the Jan. 6 press release.
Responding departments were: the Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office, Hyalite Rural Fire District, Yellowstone Club Fire Department, Gallatin Gateway Fire and Bozeman Fire.