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Santa Rosa gas station worker burned during propane fire

A worker at a west Santa Rosa gas station suffered a serious burn when an RV caught fire while the man filled its propane tank, Santa Rosa fire said Monday.

The 5:40 p.m. fire Sunday sent black smoke high above the Jolly Washer Express and 76 gas station at Piner Road and Coffey Lane as flames quickly engulfed the older-model recreational vehicle and dangerously heated the station’s propane distribution tank, Santa Rosa Battalion Chief Matt Dahl said.

Santa Rosa firefighters arrived in just under three minutes, coming from the Coffey Lane station around the corner. They found flames and smoke pouring from the vehicle, 10 feet from the station’s propane tank. The tank’s emergency shut off button had melted as had a plastic casing holding a fire extinguisher at the tank.

Firefighters cooled the tank and extinguished the flames.

An ambulance took the 48-year-old victim to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. Bill Gregoire, 48, later told his boss that just after he noticed smoke coming from the vehicle as he pumped propane there was a flash of flames, which burned one shin and part of one arm.

An investigation determined the station’s equipment operated properly and staff followed required safety steps, said Santa Rosa Assistant Fire Marshal Ian Hardage. The problem appeared to be a leak in the RV’s propane line, but the extensive damage precluded a definitive conclusion, Hardage said.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter@rossmannreport.com.

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