BOISE, Idaho (KLIX) Fire investigators believed piled up snow near a Council business caused a gas leak that eventually caught on fire damaging the building. According to investigators with the Idaho State Fire Marshal's Office, firefighters responded to a fire contained in a storage room last week that caused smoke damage throughout the building.

Investigators say snow piled up next to the building had shifted causing a gas pipe to crack which allowed propane to fill the building.

Many parts of Idaho have received record-breaking snowfall since mid-December. Roof collapses have dominated the media, especially in the lower treasure valley,” said Idaho State Fire Marshal Knute Sandahl. “Many home and business owners have taken proactive measures to remove snow and ice from their roofs. This particular business owner did just that. Unfortunately, the excess snow from the roof piled along the back side of the building and, unintentionally, against the propane gas pipe to the building.”

Security video shows a worker checking the pilot light on the water heater after smelling propane. About two minutes later after the worker leaves the room the propane ignites and burns near the broken pipe in a wall.

“This unfortunate incident is an excellent and dramatic example of the importance of protecting your propane or natural gas meters, piping, and regulators from snow accumulation,” Sandahl said.

Sandahl offers these additional safety recommendations for home and business owners:

  • Walk around the perimeter of your home during and after snowfall and check for blocked vent pipes. Furnaces, dryers, and other flame-heated appliances are often vented to the outside through walls. Blocked vent pipes could cause deadly amounts of carbon monoxide to build up inside your home or building.
  • A carbon monoxide detector is always a must if your house or building has any appliance heated by flame.
  • Have flame-heated appliances checked and inspected regularly by a qualified technician.  Loose fittings, cracks in piping, and other issues can be found and corrected before a tragedy occurs.
  • Finally, if you happen to smell natural gas or propane, leave the building and call 911 from outside or from a neighbor’s home.

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