Mary Beth Sallee
Reporter, Hart Co. News-Herald
Last Friday, a storm rolled through Hart County, causing a fire to erupt at a residence in the LeGrande community.
On June 17, John and Bridget Polka were both at work when a storm hit around 10 a.m. CT at their home located on Hwy. 218, approximately four miles from the Wigwam General Store.
By 10:30 a.m., a neighbor had come into Bridget’s salon, telling her that the gas tank at Bridget’s home was on fire.
“Neighbors say there was a loud boom, and the flames were around 50 feet high at first,” Bridgett said. “By the time I got to the house, the flames were smaller.”
Bridget stated that a large tree branch fell onto the power and phone lines which then fell onto the gas tank, knocking off part of the tank and causing gas to spew out and catch on fire.
According to volunteer firefighter Dale Avery, Hardyville Volunteer Fire Department and North Metcalfe Fire Department were on scene, along with Hart Emergency Management and Sheriff Jeff Wilson.
United Propane Gas (UPG) company also quickly arrived to evaluate the situation.
“They (firefighters) sprayed water on the ground around the gas tank and watched the fire,” Bridget said. “…The fire department and gas company were great! They stayed until 4:30 p.m. to make sure the gas was going to burn off and the tank wasn’t going to explode.”
“There was a chance it could explode,” Bridget continued. “If it had, we wouldn’t have a house or garage. They were considering blocking off 218 by our house in case it exploded, but they didn’t have to. Thankfully, the wind was blowing away from our house, so our garage, house, and pool were OK.”
For the Polkas, it will be a strenuous process to get things back to normal at their home. As of Monday, June 20, the family was still without electricity and gas.
“It’s been a very humbling experience for our family,” Bridget said. “We are thanking the good Lord for the wind blowing away from our house and still having a home. Our neighbors were amazing that day. We want to thank everyone that told us about the fire, called the fire department, and offered help afterwards. It’s a good feeling to be surrounded by neighbors that care.”