HANSVILLE — Hansville residents were hit particularly hard during the Dec. 14-15, 2006 windstorm that crashed through western Washington. One local business was able to provide heat and warmth during a time that seemed bleak and cold.
Kitsap Propane, based between Kingston and Hansville, was able to fill temporary tanks for people who had run out of gas, and had no hope of getting any from their usual providers, said Kitsap Propane owner Larry Brooke.
“We had one old lady who called us up, and she had water in her tank that kept freezing,” he said. “She had tried calling her normal company, but they said they couldn’t make it out until next week because they were so swamped with calls all over the area. Because we are local, we were able to get out there that day and fix the problem.”
Other residents began contacting Brooke when their propane ran out, and he brought out temporary tanks and propane to get residents through the near weeklong power outage in some areas.
“We can’t fill up a competitor’s tank, but we were bringing out our own tanks that they could use for a short time,” he said. “I think it really helped everyone out, and no one froze after the storm.”
Helping residents in need of heat is just one facet of Brooke’s business, which he started in 1999 when he installed his first underground tank.
“People don’t want to see their propane tanks in their backyards,” Brooke said. “I started developing underground tanks for (construction companies) and discovered that was my niche, was underground systems.”
The propane tanks, which only have a small dome as any evidence they are there, function just like a regular aboveground tank, he said.
“Lots of aboveground tanks get rusty and worn looking after a while,” he said. “The underground tanks do, too, but you can’t see them, so it doesn’t matter.”
Brooke’s discovery of fuels began in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he worked with bulk fuel for three years. After that he went on to college, wrote technical manuals, then started work in construction. After finding out underground tanks are high in demand, especially on Bainbridge Island where he had his first clients, Brooke create Kitsap Propane and decided to work toward countywide propane coverage.
“We are able to provide service to people at any time because we are local,” he said. “When people couldn’t get companies to respond, it was because they aren’t located here, they’re more near the corporate headquarters. We’re local, and we can provide a good service to people in Kitsap.”