Santa Cruz County

Boulder Creek Man Saves Lives Before Massive Explosion

Propane Company's Valve Failed Leading To Leak

BOULDER CREEK, Calif. - Thomas Brown's daughter cleared the broken glass from their porch representing the aftermath of a ticking time bomb with very little warning.

"It was a giant rushing sound," Brown said.

The sound Brown heard was a thick cloud of propane headed straight for his Boulder Creek home.

"It engulfed our house," he said.

With his daughter fast asleep he had to act fast.

"I got her out of bed and to a safe distance because I could tell it would explode any minute," Brown said.

After the pair got a safe distance away they heard a loud "boom."

"Like a bomb going off," Brown said.

Fire crews said a propane company was transferring the gas from one tank to another, but a faulty valve led to the leak.

The gas then ignited when it reached Brown's exterior heater more than 100 feet away. That's when Brown and his daughter saw the fire.

Brown wasted no time taking matters into his own hands as he used a garden hose on the house.

He put out the fire before fire crews arrived.

It only took fire crews 45 minutes to put out the additional fires in the surrounding area on Bar King Road. Fire crews attribute overnight rain in the Santa Cruz Mountains helped them put the fire out faster.

Brown says he didn't have time to panic.

"I just deal with things that way," he said.

Brown and his daughter escaped unharmed but one of the propane company's employees was taken to a San Jose hospital. He is expected to be OK

California Occupation Safety And Health Administration is investigating.

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