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A 40-year-old Idaho man was flown to Seattle for treatment after suffering burns in a propane explosion that destroyed a garage in the Helena Valley Tuesday morning. 

The explosion occurred as the man was working on a vehicle carrying a 3,000-gallon propane tank around 10:15 a.m. in the area of York Road and Lake Helena Drive. The explosion rocked nearby residences and caused a large fire and black plume of smoke.

The man caught on fire in the explosion and was burned, according to Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton. The man is a Boise contractor who was brought in to work on the vehicle, the sheriff said. 

York Road was reopened after a few hours of closure while the East Valley Fire Department and other emergency crews responded. East Valley Fire Chief Dave Sammons said the fire was out around 3 p.m. 

According to Sammons, firefighters had to wait about a half hour for the flames from the propane tank to settle down before they could begin their first attack. When they began the initial attack, the tank began venting again, causing firefighters to back off. The cause of the fire is "currently under investigation, but was obviously something to do with the propane tank," he said.

"The main shop was lost, two service trucks, a tractor and a bunch of stuff inside the shop," were destroyed in the fire, according to Sammons. Firefighters were able to remove another tractor and save it from the fire, he said.

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Reporter

Reporter at the Helena Independent Record.

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