I-Team: Dozens of propane facilities located near homes, businesses in Tampa Bay area
6:30 PM, Jul 30, 2013
8:31 AM, Jul 31, 2013
TAMPA - After Monday night's fire and explosions at a propane facility in Lake County, FL, the I-Team began looking into whether a similar accident could happen in the Bay Area.
Nearly one out of five licensed propane dealers in Florida is in the Tampa Bay region.
See map below
Each day, those businesses are responsible for filling, refurbishing and delivering tens of thousands of tanks.
They're located along some of Tampa Bay's busiest highways, in crowded industrial parks, and often adjoining tranquil neighborhoods...liquid petroleum gas dealers, similar to the one rocked by explosions at the Blue Rhino plant.
"It certainly raised a new awareness to the danger that might be right there," said Chris Capkovic, who lives near Northside Propane in Lutz.
Northside Propane is one of 231 licensed LP gas dealers in Florida, which includes the Blue Rhino plant.
"I've seen them. They're big," said Capkovic, describing the propane tanks at the facility.
"They're like big missiles laying on the ground is what they are," he said.
The I-Team discovered that the state has licensed 42 liquid propane dealers in the Tampa Bay region.
Hillsborough County has the largest number with eight, Pinellas County has seven and Polk and Pasco Counties each have five licensed large scale facilities.
Those are each supposed to be inspected by the state every 12-to-24 months.
Hillsbourgh Fire and Rescue helps develop emergency response plans for propane distributors.
Emergency officials also have developed plans to respond to propane emergencies at the Port of Tampa and in cases of mishaps involving ground, sea or rail transportation.
The good news...propane is just about everywhere, disasters involving the product are few.
When asked whether he was worried about the tanks near his business, Steve Tuliano said, "Not one bit. I've been here for 11 years. They're really good neighbors. I never had a problem."
State emergency management officials say that had the incident in Lake county happened in a more populated area, like those close to plants in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, there would have likely been more injuries.