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Fire investigation at 104 S. Virginia Ave.

The Mason City Fire Department responded to an alarm for a garage fire at 8:12 p.m. on January 29, 2011. The residence is owned and occupied by Royce and Clay Stephens.

The fire involved their detached 28’ by 40’ garage. The Stephens were inside the house and reported hearing an explosion. Neighborhood residents also reported hearing an explosion from several blocks away. Clay Stephens went outside to investigate and discovered the three overhead doors to the garage lying in the driveway as well as damage to the entry door. He entered the garage and found a small amount of fire in the separated shop area. He was unsuccessful in an attempt to extinguish the fire, and with the help of neighbors, was able to move three vehicles from the garage to the street before the flames spread throughout the entire structure. The garage was completely involved when the fire department arrived, and radiated heat damaged siding on the house and destroyed a pick-up truck parked on the west side of the garage.

Investigation revealed the occupant had a 100-pound LP tank in the garage to supply gas to a weed-burner torch used to heat and form metal sculptures. The tank was connected to the torch with a flexible hose that passed through the wall separating the garage area from the shop. The LP tank valve was found in the open position. We believe the hose may have failed allowing gas to escape and accumulate until it reached an ignition source and caused the explosion and fire.

Mark Christiansen
Fire Marshal
Mason City Fire Department |

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