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People shocked by the fatal December 2007 accident involving a propane explosion in Fries quickly started asking “why?”
As in: Why didn’t a propane tank in the busy business district of Fries surrounded by some kind of barrier, to protect the tank from a vehicle accidentally rolling down the incline above it?
Perhaps the short — and cynical — answer is because there wasn’t any law requiring such safety measures to be in place. Maybe people took these precautions for granted because of how common propane tanks are, and because depending on luck had worked up to that point.
The incident — which left two women dead, three others injured and a business possibly damaged beyond repair — has motivated officials across the Twin Counties to take stock of the situation.
The deaths and injuries could have been avoided with reasonable and proper protection for the propane tank in Fries.
After taking a survey of the other existing tanks in the Twin Counties, officials in Carroll, Galax and Grayson came to the conclusion that this kind of accident could easily happen again.
The particulars are still being worked on, but all three localities are discussing ordinances that would require barriers.
This is a case where it’s probably better to have a uniform safety standard in a locality, rather than waiting for different entities to implement different solutions. It’s certainly better than what was done in the past — nothing.
A locality imposing regulations and requirements is the best way to protect public safety.