Northfield man burned while cutting into propane tank
A Northfield man suffered severe burns to his face and upper body Monday night when a 30-pound propane tank he was cutting into with a power tool exploded, authorities said.
Keith Dame, 38, of 25 Granite St., remained in intensive care yesterday at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was flown after the incident. A hospital official there declined to release his condition.
Timothy Joubert, a captain at the Tilton-Northfield fire department, said emergency officials were called to the address about 9:30 p.m. for a reported building fire. When they arrived, Dame was leaning against a pickup truck, apparently alert and oriented, Joubert said. A bystander was near the burned tank, dousing it with a garden hose.
Dame suffered burns to his face and unprotected extremities; he was wearing shorts and a T-shirt at the time, according to an incident report. He was rushed to Franklin Regional Hospital and later flown to Massachusetts General.
Joubert said there were several other empty propane tanks and power tools at the scene of the explosion. He was unsure whether any of those other tanks had been cut open. Joubert said Dame appeared to be harvesting the semi-filled tank for scrap metal. The canister itself is steel, the top valve brass.
Joubert said he didn’t know where Dame had obtained the tanks. The Northfield police responded to the incident, but were not investigating any suspicious activity yesterday related to it.
Dame has a criminal history, including convictions in 2009 for criminal trespassing and in 2012 for felony theft, according to court records. He was arrested earlier this year and charged with issuing a bad check, and is scheduled for arraignment next month.
Joseph Rose, president of the Propane Gas Association of New England, said the brass valve would have little market value. He said scrap yards typically require owners to first puncture the containers before recycling them.
Both Joubert and Rose cautioned against scrapping the containers on their own.
Propane is “a versatile and safe fuel when handled properly,” Rose said in a statement. “However, it’s important to leave the technical work to licensed propane service technicians.”
(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319, email@example.com or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)