TexasAbout 30 old propane storage tanks sitting out on a property fronting State Highway 274 in Seven Points, TX, were tampered with October 13 in an apparent attempt to empty them and remove their regulators for scrap, according to The Monitor Online news agency. The regulator weighs slightly less than a pound and would bring in about $1.20 as scrap. The stunt could have blown up this corner of the county Fire Chief A. J. Kirksey said.

Kirksey told The Monitor that a call reporting a strong smell of propane on State Highway 274 first alerted him to the danger. “When we arrived at the scene the smell was overwhelming. There was no time to evacuate.”

He said “someone had cracked open the gas valves on about 30 tanks” of various sizes. He estimates there were a total of 12,000 to 18,000 gallons of gas stored in those tanks.

He and his volunteers carefully went from tank to tank closing the valves, being careful not to draw a spark, according to the Monitor Online report.

Once every valve was tightened and the wind had carried the expelled gas away, the fire chief contacted a Ferrellgas office in Texarkana, TX.

The firm sent out technicians to inspect the tanks for leaks, Kirksey said.

The Gun Barrel City, TX, fire rescue also came out with a gas leak detection device to make sure the gas was contained.

“I thought those tanks were empty,” Kirksey said. “They’re not supposed to be there. Had they been ignited the whole point of Henderson County wouldn’t be there anymore.”