Extra-alarm fire breaks out at propane tank exchange in Gurnee

GURNEE, Ill. -–Just after noon Thursday firefighters were called to the scene of a fire at the Pinnacle Propane Express near Northwestern Ave. in Gurnee.

The massive seven-alarm response drew engine companies from more than a dozen neighboring fire departments to the commercial building where people exchange propane tanks. Police evacuated residents in the area.

“[The police officer] said we should evacuate because the propane tanks are exploding, if they do have a large propane tank it would take at least 6-7 blocks out,” said neighbor Mitzie Jikomes, who was evacuated.

Pinnacle Propane Express has two large propane tanks used to fill smaller units, and the smaller tanks started to explode as the fire spread.

Crews on the scene were worried about nearby commercial buildings that may contain chemicals, as well as what would happen if the bigger ones went up too.

“Those cylinders could have traveled a mile and a half,” Gurnee Fire Department Chief Fred Friedl said.

Firefighters used a police drone to get an aerial view before moving in with their crews, putting three lines on the blaze. It’s now under control, and neighbors were able to return home without any injuries.

Investigators are looking into what caused the fire.