Propane leak forces dental clinic in Chester to evacuate

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2021 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Firefighters at the Chester Dental Clinic on Monday morning. Photos by Shawn Cunningham unless otherwise noted.

A large propane leak at the Chester Dental Clinic just west of downtown this morning brought out firefighters from Chester and Proctorsville on a busy day of high wind-related calls.

Upon arrival, Chester Fire Chief Matt Wilson said, his crew used gas meters to detect a high level of propane. The building was evacuated and Proctorsville Fire was called for additional assistance.

An oscillating ‘blitzfire’ hose attachment sets up a fog of water to disperse the leaking gas. Courtesy Chester Fire Department

“We had just gotten back from another fire and we got called to this,” said Wilson. The dental office  “had a delivery this morning and started smelling propane.” Wilson noted that the clinic has two underground tanks plus one external tank. The problem was that the “spitter valve” on the top of one of the underground tanks was broken and it was bleeding off the propane that was delivered earlier in the morning.

Ten to 15 people were driven in a bus loaned by Green Mountain High School to the Springfield Health Center to keep warm. “Due to the propane levels, I can’t let any of them start their vehicles,” said Wilson.

Firefighters stand by as technicians work to stop the leak

Firefighters set up “blitzfires,” hose attachments that oscillate and create a fog pattern with air and droplets that help disperse the propane. “You just keep doing that until you can get the leak fixed and the levels become manageable,” said Wilson.

The high winds also helped to disperse the gas, but Wilson noted that it also made if difficult to take good meter readings to know what was going on.

Technicians from Irving Energy stopped the leak and were replacing the malfunctioning valve as firefighters cleaned up and loaded their hoses.

There were no injuries in the incident and the Fire Department turned the property over to the propane technicians.

In addition to Chester and Proctorsville, the Chester Ambulance responded to the scene and Rockingham Fire Department covered the Chester Fire Station.



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