3-alarm blaze tears through Abington home, with leaking propane tank nearby

A three-alarm fire tore through an Abington home, nearly igniting an adjacent 100-pound propane tank that was leaking, officials said.

“The greatest danger would be if the tank itself overheated, which weakens the steel,” said Abington Fire Chief John Nuttall. “Had that weakened and ruptured, we would have had a catastrophic explosion.”

Firefighters responded to the two-story home at 160 Shaw Ave. at 11:39 a.m. Tuesday. The flames were burning dangerously close to the tank and a propane home delivery truck, officials said. The priority, once firefighters assessed the scene, was to douse the tank with water to keep it cool and avoid an explosion.

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“The neighborhood was in jeopardy,” Nuttall said.

The truck driver was located several houses away with minor burns and was transported to South Shore Hospital. One firefighter was also taken to the hospital with a minor injury from a fall.

Nobody was home at the time of the fire, which firefighters fought for about three hours.

Crews were initially prevented from shutting off the tank valve because a charged electrical wire had burned and fallen away from the house. Once the wire was deenergized, firefighters approached the tank and shut off an open valve, which had been spewing fire.

They then entered the home and extinguished the blaze there, officials said.

The house suffered heavy fire and water damage, and is considered a total loss. Damage has been estimated at $350,000, Nuttall said. The family of seven who lived in the house were displaced, and the Red Cross is assisting them.

The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause of the fire, but it appears to be accidental, fire officials said.