American Legion Post #22 member Arthur Schuman had just turned on the post’s barbecue grill to cook some burgers Wednesday, June 22, 2016, and then walked inside to get a soda. While inside, he heard the sounds of two five-pound propane tanks venting after flames began lapping at them when the barbecue caught fire.
When the safety valve on a propane tank starts to vent, the contents of the tank begins to spray out and there is an immediate danger of them blowing up.
Schuman realized the grill was on fire and ignoring his personal safety, immediately raced outside and picked up a garden house, and began to spray water on the barbecue grill fire as another post member called 911. At the same time, Schuman grabbed a small fire extinguisher in an attempt to “put” fire retardant on the fire, but because the small metal doors of the barbecue were secured with a chain and lock, his efforts failed.
The Golden Valley Fire District (GVFD) received the call at 4:34 p.m. and firefighters from Stations 11, 12 and 13, in addition to Fire Chief Jack Yeager, headed toward the American Legion located on Verde Road just north of U.S. Highway 68. While in route to the fire, the firefighters from Station 13 were called off and they returned to their station on Oatman Highway.
Upon arrival at the American Legion, the firefighters observed fire and smoke billowing from the barbecue on the back patio area. The firefighters immediately deployed their hoses, cut the chain on the barbecue and extinguished the blaze.
Once the fire was out, the firefighters took the two five-pound propane tanks and placed them in a dirt area behind the American Legion as a safety procedure.
According to fire officials, Schuman’s “firefighting” efforts may have kept the fire from spreading to the main American Legion building. The only damage other than the barbecue was a small section of the sun canopy on the back patio melted.
GVFD officials recommend that residents always inspect their barbecue grills prior to cooking in order to ensure that there is no leaking propane and are in proper working order.