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GHENT, W. Va. -- A malfunctioning valve caused a propane leak that resulted in a tank explosion that killed four people and seriously injured five others at a Little General convenience store here in January, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board stated last week, according to an Associated Press report.
What still remains to be answered is how or why the valve malfunctioned, the report stated.
Tests conducted at a West Virginia laboratory found a leak in a liquid-withdrawal valve that investigators believe was the source of the large propane release that leveled the store, the board said.
On the day of the accident, workers removed a metal screw cap from the valve to move propane from the 20-year-old tank into a new tank that was being installed, the report stated. The old tank had a mechanism that normally would have prevented leaking when the cap was off, the CSB said.
The board said it will continue testing the valve to determine why it malfunctioned.
CSNews Online reported in January that the only remains of the Flat Top Little General Store after the propane blast was a pile of splintered debris, twisted metal framework and a sign showing the price of gasoline. The blast shattered windows up to a mile away and toppled a fire truck, while candy and food wrappers were found in trees more than 200 yards away.