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Wellsville house fire blamed on leaking propane tank on barbecue grill

October 19th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

Story & Photo by Storee Powell

WELLSVILLE–Homeowners Tom and Letitia Leishman saw their home go up in flames not once, but twice this last weekend, once on Saturday night while cooking barbecue on their back porch and again early Monday morning from a reignited hotspot.

Chief Deputy David Bennett of the Cache County Sheriff’s Office said the cause of the fire was a leaky propane tank on the grill, which did not explode but flared up, igniting the back of the home at 750 E. 400 North.

Bennett said Letitia and Tom were admitted to Logan Regional Hospital after the fire Saturday night and treated for smoke inhalation and shock, and Letitia was flown to McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden after suffering a minor heart attack.

Jerald Leishman, Tom’s son, said the fire created stress for Letitia, who suffers from hypertension, causing the heart attack. He said she had an angioplasty Tuesday and was out of surgery around 1:30 p.m. “I don’t know all the results from the surgery yet, but if all goes well, they may release her today and send her home tonight.”

Jerald said his dad is doing fine physically and that the two will be staying with family in the area for awhile. Jerald said he’s asked renters in a home he owns at 765 E. 400 North, across the street from the burnt home, to find another place so the Leishmans can live there, close to the soon-to-be rebuilding scene.

The ash-ridden home caught fire again early Monday morning around 4 a.m. Neighbors were ordered from their homes by fire officials as a precaution. Bennett said there was no damage to surrounding homes. The home was completely re-engulfed, causing round two for firefighters including the Wellsville, Logan and Mendon fire departments.

Bennett said there will be no continuing investigation because of the second fire unless the fire marshal says something different from the original cause. He said the cause of the re-ignition was likely a hot spot, and it is not unusual for fires that hot to restart.

Jeremy Poppleton, Wellsville fire chief, said that insurance adjusters were at the scene Tuesday, and the Wellsville fire department has been monitoring the house to make sure there are no more flare-ups.

“We are thinking a hot spot caused Sunday’s flare-up. The void spaces with the different roofs caused an operational challenge to put the fire out, and there very well could have been a hot spot in there,” Poppleton said.

He said the plan for the homeowners now is to take it down and start over as the house is a total loss. He said there are still some items in the basement the Leishmans will be able to recover or salvage.

Poppleton said after the items are recovered and the homeowners get the OK from the insurance company, they will start the demolition and rebuilding process. He said the monetary damage was close to $300,000 for the home and its contents.

Poppleton said, “We are very tired from fighting the two fires. You never like to see something like this happen in your community, it gets mentally and physically exhausting. Under the conditions, if I was in their situation, it would be tough. Everything is a loss. But the community is chipping in to do whatever they can to help them out.”

Bennett said, “This is a sad situation. The Leishmans are a landmark family in Wellsville, and great people. We use their wrecking service all the time.” Tom Leishman owns Tom’s Service, a wrecking service next to the burnt home, at 4701 S. Highway 89-91, where Jerald works.


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  1. One Response to “Wellsville house fire blamed on leaking propane tank on barbecue grill”

  2. By bohol on Oct 21, 2010

    This tragedy could have been voided if there was prior inspection of the propane tank. I know that there is a gadget that can detect leak on a propane tank. It will send alarm once the leak is detected.

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