Three Lacombe County families were evacuated from their homes as a precaution on Wednesday night when a propane tank caught fire on a farm about 18 km northwest of Lacombe.
“Until the fire is out, there is still a chance the tank might explode and that’s why we evacuated them,” said Lacombe Fire Chief Daryl Friesen. Two families were allowed to return on Thursday afternoon. Residents of the farm where the tank is located were to kept away until all of the propane was allowed to burn off. That was expected to happen by Thursday evening.
Friesen said all three families were within a 1.6-km safety zone set up around the tank. Lincoln Road was also closed to traffic until 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The cause of the blaze, which started about 8:15 p.m., has not been determined yet.
It appears the fire started in a water well pump house and spread to a large propane tank adjacent.
The pump house partly collapsed but fortunately did not fall on the tank, he said.
About 20 firefighters from the Lacombe, Lacombe County and Bentley responded to the call.
Nobody was injured in the fire.
“The structure was fully involved by the time we got there,” Friesen said.
When fire crews arrived and determined there was a tank burning, they were pulled back for safety reasons.
A gas company later went to the scene and recommended the fire be allowed to burn itself out rather than try to shut off the flow because the valve had been damaged. The risk of an explosion is considered small because the tank is venting out of its top.
It was initially thought the tank would burn off in four to six hours but it is venting less gas than expected.