Agnos, Camp fire departments called to aid Salem firemen in battling garage fire
Salem firemen were greeted by a massive explosion when they arrived at the scene of a fire Feb. 25.
Salem Fire Chief Heath Everett said John Markcum was working on a personal vehicle in a garage belonging to Derry Reed of 124 Bow Lane when gasoline from a detached engine was ignited by the pilot light of a propane heater.
Everett said the 40-pound propane tank exploded and sent a 100-foot tall ball of fire in the air as firemen were arriving at the scene. He said one of the firemen described it as a mushroom cloud.
The explosion set everything around it on fire. The propane tank shot into the woods and caught the trees on fire; the Arkansas Forestry Service was called in to assist.
Everett said there were homes within 40 yards around the garage. "When we got there fire had spread through the yard and started melting siding on a neighbor's house," he said.
Throughout the fire there were several small explosions. Everett said the explosions were caused by cans of paint and paint thinner.
Everett said a river of burning gas was heading downhill towards Reed's own home. He said this was the last bit of fire to be put out.
Besides the Forestry Service, the Camp and Agnos fire departments were called in to bring more water. Everett said the structure was 900 feet from the nearest fire hydrant.
Everett said 11 firemen from Salem, two from Agnos and three from Camp fire departments were on the scene.
According to the incident report, the fire department used at least 10,000 gallons of water to put out the fire along with 20 gallons of foam. The fire department was called at 7:20 p.m. and arrived at 7:26 p.m. the report said. The firemen were dismissed from the scene at 10:30 p.m. according to the report.
Besides the garage, Reed lost 10 cars, Everett said. Three of those were in the garage when it exploded and seven were out in the yard.