IRVING A storage shed filled with more than a dozen full propane canisters likely fueled an overnight two-alarm fire that destroyed an Irving home, said Assistant Fire Chief Rusty Wilson.
While the official cause and origin of the blaze in the 2000 block of Scarlet Oaks Drive remains under investigation, Wilson said it was a fair assumption that the propane canisters in the shed accelerated the flames.
'The reason that fire got going so big so fast is because that thing was full of propane bottles. Full of propane bottles,' Wilson said. 'There was actually a lot of fire and blue flame coming out of that building.'
Investigators believe the propane bottles were first purchased in 1973, making them 40 years old.
'They still had propane in them, but I can't imagine the integrity of the seals being that good,' the assistant chief said.
Most of the house was about 18 to 20 feet away from the shed, although portions of the home were 10 feet from it. The homeowner, Abimel Acosta, saw the fire and escaped the home unharmed. Wilson said his wife was at work.
'It's a mess; it's unbelievable the destruction of it,' Acosta said this morning. 'All you can think of is all the memories that are lost in there. You can't replace them.'
When firefighters arrived moments after 12:03 a.m., flames were already coming out of the turbines on the roof of the home, indicating that the fire was already rushing through the attic, Wilson said. A second alarm was called at 12:16 a.m.
Seven engines, three trucks, three ambulances and five command vehicles responded. About 42 firefighters were on scene to control the blaze, which burned until 1:01 a.m. At one point, the wall at the south end of the home collapsed outward, coming to rest on the fence.
No firefighters were injured. Wilson said units had to retreat into a defensive manner and attack the flames using a deck gun stationed on one of the trucks. The propane propelled the fire through the attic, he added.
There were no injuries and only minor exterior damage to a neighbor's home.
By the time sunlight illuminated the damage, Acosta's residence was reduced to a pile of rubble. The family's pets are missing. He was able to salvage two study bibles, a watch his late father gave him for his high school graduation and an external hard drive, containing old photos of his family and of the home itself.
Now, Acosta, who has 28 years in the construction business, said he would clear the concrete slab and begin drawing up blueprints for his next home. All that's left is the tree he and his wife planted when they moved there decades ago.
'When we moved here, that tree was only about eight feet tall,' he said. 'Now it's gone up to 30, 40, 50 feet high.'