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City of Bend places methane warning signs at sewer stations around town after fire last year

(Update: Adding video, comments from Wilson, deputy fire marshal)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Several signs warning of methane gas have been put up around Bend. They were installed in response to a fire last year at the west Bend sewer lift station.

Methane gas is colorless and odorless -- and when it builds up, it can be deadly.

"The signs went up last year," city Utility Business Manager Dana Wilson said Thursday. "We had a fire at the west side lift station, and it's there for firefighter protection."

Deputy Fire Marshal Dan Derlacki said, "These lift stations have been around for many, many years, and the signs weren't there ahead of time."

Around Bend, there are 11 natural gas-fueled generators at 10 sewer lift stations, and now signs warn of methane after the fire.

Methane is a hydrocarbon and is a primary component of natural gas, which is used in many homes for heating and cooking. It also powers the generators used to treat the city's sewage.

Wilson said, "These generators are used to move waste from lower elevations to higher elevations and move it up to the treatment plant."

The signs are meant to warn firefighters about the presence of methane if they respond to an emergency at a site. The locations of the  generators include facilities on Touchmark Way, O.B. Riley Road and Powerhouse Drive. 

When firefighters are alerted to the possible risk of methane, they'll know to take precautions and wear the appropriate breathing apparatus. 

Derlacki said, "It is a fire hazard, methane. It's also an asphyxiant.  So if we get into a small area with it, displaces oxygen (and) becomes a hazard to our breathing."

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Kelsey McGee

Kelsey McGee is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Kelsey here.


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