Family From Monroe, WA Perished In That Brinnon Cabin Explosion
June 11, 2018
Police tape cordons off area of explosion and fire. Photo: Twitter
CLICK TO ENLARGE: Location of cabin explosion
CLICK TO ENLARGE: Post by Cascade Community Church
(BRINNON, WA.) – Authorities are not yet ready to officially state the cause of that deadly cabin explosion and fire in Brinnon, Washington early Sunday that claimed the lives of five family members.
But according to Jefferson County’s Coroner Mike Haas, they do not suspect foul play at this time although the investigation into the blast continues by local officials as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The Peninsula Daily News (PDN) quoted Jefferson County Undersheriff Art Frank as saying the follow up investigation into what happened at the cabin to cause the explosion will likely take weeks to complete.
Brinnon is a tiny community of around 800 people in Jefferson County located in the northwest corner of Washington not far from Olympic National Park.
According to the PDN, Haas on Monday identified those who died in the blast as a family of five from Monroe: parents Jerry A. Drake and Jenny L. Drake, both 42, and their three children ages 2, 8 and 11.
The Drakes, who own a home in the 16500 block of 154Th Street SE in the Frylands area of Monroe, were members of Cascade Community Church located on 167th Ave SE in the city.
Monday evening a Facebook post by the church said, “Tonight we grieve the tragic loss of one of our church families. Many of you know the Drakes from Awana, VBS and Sunday classes. Please keep their extended family and friends in prayer.”
Autopsies to confirm manner and cause of the deaths were scheduled to be performed at the office of the King County Medical Examiner.
The cabin where the explosion occurred around 1:00 am Sunday is located in the 600 block of Salmon Street in Brinnon. Early reports said the family was renting the small cabin but later Monday officials confirmed the family owned the cabin and regularly went there for recreation.
By the time firefighters arrived the cabin was fully engulfed in flames. Just before 6:00 am Sunday the Brinnon Fire Dept. in a news release said, ”During the fire suppression effort fire fighters located two bodies in the remnants of the cabin.” Later in the day, three more bodies were discovered.
The fire drew unit responses from six area fire departments.
The Brinnon Fire Dept. said in its early Sunday morning news release neighbors, "Reported an explosion and stated the hillside was on fire and the house, a small rental cabin, was gone." The neighbors reported hearing the blast about 1:00 am.
The PDN said a neighbor reported hearing a hissing noise before the sound of an explosion, adding that investigators did find an exploded five-gallon propane tank but it was not confirmed the fire was caused by that tank exploding.
There’s Danger In Re-Lighting Pilot Lights On Propane, Natural Gas Heating Systems
There’s danger to a homeowner in attempting to do what appears to be an effortless, safe task: relighting a pilot light that has gone out on a propane or natural gas heating system.
In one month, the month of September 2012 propane explosions in Connecticut and New York killed three people and injured several others.
Under no circumstance should homeowners attempt to repair or alter any part of their propane or natural gas system, Stuart Flatow, vice president of the Propane Education & Research Council in Washington DC., a nonprofit trade group told the Hartford Courant newspaper.
Even if the pilot light goes off which - according to YouTube videos homeowners can easily do themselves - the Propane Council recommends that homeowners call their propane supplier to relight it and NOT do it themselves.
Why? Because the fact is says Flatow, “they're putting their life and family at risk."
Any kind of propane/natural gas leak can be dangerous. Connecticut State Fire Marshall Robert Ross told the Courant that if you smell gas and its more than just a pilot light you need to get out of the house ASAP and call 9-1-1 from outside the house. Stay outside or at a neighbor's and wait for help to arrive.
When it comes to gas, even a routine installation by pros can get dangerous very fast. That 2012 article by the Courant said three accidents that year had “propane industry executives wondering what went wrong.”
In Shelton, Connecticut two propane workers were doing a routine install of a gas operated clothes drier when an explosion occurred, injuring the workers and the home's resident.
The Hidden Danger Of Cooking With Propane Gas Grills
There is a little known hidden danger in cooking with grills powered by gas from propane tanks. That danger is an unexpected explosion.
Five years ago such an explosion injured ESPN anchor/reporter Hannah Storm as she was cooking dinner one night. Watch the video below, a clip from an old ABC TV Nightly News broadcast.
There was an interesting response (below) to the above video by YouTube viewer watcher2233:
"There's nothing to fear using a propane gas grill so long as you have some good sense about dealing with fire and fuel.
And, it also helps if the grill is designed properly; many grills have the igniter built into the burner control, which means that if the fire goes out and the cookbox fills with propane gas and you turn the burner control to OFF, you may set off the igniter in the process, which could ignite the propane.
When buying a gas grill, avoid models with the igniter on the burner control. The igniter should be a separate control.
If you have a gas grill with the igniter integrated into the burner control, should the fire go out and propane gas builds up in the cookbox, turn the gas off using the tank valve and leave the burner control alone, then open up the grill. Turn off the burner control only after the propane has safely dissipated".