It was a classic case of being at the right place, at the right time.
On Saturday, Feb. 19, ITD maintenance worker Larry Jokinen, pulled into the two-bay Stanley Maintenance shed and noticed a ceiling-mounted propane heater on fire. After calling 911 Larry promptly turned off the propane and electricity to the building, snuffing the fire.
When the Sawtooth Valley Rural Fire Department responded, no flames were visible and no flames had spread through the building’s sheet-rock-covered rafters. The building houses a $275,000 rotary snow blower and loader and provides storage for material used to patch highway cracks, which is flammable and could have resulted in a catastrophic blaze.
Andy Gunderson, also an ITD employee and Fire Chief for the SVR Fire Department, said that it was lucky the building and equipment didn’t burn, especially considering most of the local Stanley firefighters were attending a weekend training session in Burley. The damage not only would have been extensive but also very expensive.
The fire was later determined to have started in the heater’s electronic ignition module and had spread to the fan and blower.
If Larry would not have arrived when he did, the results
could have been devastating.