Boiler causes fire at Soldotna gas station

Chief of Operations Gordon Orth responds with Central Emergency Services crews at a structural fire at the Soldotna Tesoro gas station. A wooden stand constructed to support a boiler on the roof of the station caught fire due to heat.

Central Emergency Services responders on Thursday extinguished a structural fire at a Soldotna Tesoro gas station. A wooden stand constructed to support a boiler on the roof of the station caught fire due to heat emitting from the vessel. Flames then spread into the building’s interior structure.

CES received a call for service at 2:39 p.m. The gas station’s employee reported smoke coming from the attic.

Responders arrived on scene within four minutes and could not see signs of a fire from the exterior of the building, said Brad Nelson, CES safety officer. However, smoke clearly was visible on the inside of the building.

Entering through the ceiling, responders discovered a fire in the space between the roof and the interior ceiling.

The fire was extinguished using foam. The building suffered $10,000 in smoke and fire damage, Nelson said.

Fires at commercial buildings generally are caused by electrical shortages, said CES fire marshal Gary Hale.

There are three boilers at the Soldotna station, which are used to heat the concrete pads surrounding the gas pumps. One of the boilers was overworked, Hale said.

“It could’ve been a bad fire if it happened in the middle of the night,” he said.

Wooden stands used to prop up boilers are not uncommon. A boiler requires 18 inches of space from a structure’s surface. Often, people place the boilers on makeshift tables constructed with two-by-fours and plywood. The wood deteriorates due to the rising and falling temperatures of the boiler, which, overtime, makes the wood more combustible, Nelson said.  

Residents should use metal legs to separate the boiler from the wood or simply use metal legs to deter similar fires, he said.

This was the third boiler related fire for 2012, he said.


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