Propane explosion in Soda Springs |

Propane explosion in Soda Springs

A Donner Summit home exploded Wednesday night after propane from a neighboring home leaked under the snow and into the house, according to fire officials.

“We had literally fiberglass in the trees and clothes in the trees. It was very apparent we had an explosion,” said Donner Summit Fire Department Chief Doug Rinella, who was first on the scene just after 6:15 p.m.

Flames from the home shot 60 feet in the air and parts of the building, including the roof, were scattered around the house, Rinella said.

No one was injured in the incident, which occurred 200 feet north of Donner Pass Road, near the Soda Springs General Store.

Fifteen firefighters from Summit Fire, Truckee Fire Protection District and California Department of Forestry contained the blaze in 45 minutes.

“There was about 10 to 12 feet of snow, which made firefighting difficult,” Rinella said.

There was no damage to surrounding structures and minor damage to nearby trees, officials reported. The house was a total loss.

Upon investigation, officials determined the ruined structure was only connected to electricity and not any sort of explosive gas.

Investigators discovered a neighboring house, located approximately 60 feet away, was connected to a propane tank buried under 10 – 12 feet of snow.

A fitting connected to the tank – ruptured from the snow load – leaked approximately 50 gallons of the heavy, colorless gas through the snow and into the neighboring house. Rinella said the snow “scrubbed out” the rotten-egg-scented odorant added to propane.

The investigation of the explosion is almost complete.

Rinella said this incident can serve as a lesson for propane users.

“We encourage folks to keep their propane tanks clear of snow,” he said. “Be sure and dig them out.”

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


Fish and Wildlife create bear DNA database


As the Lake Tahoe Basin’s black bears emerge from their winter slow-down and slumber, campground managers, biologists, park rangers and wildlife officers hope to have a new tool at their disposal to help manage the…

See more