Family fights cold after propane goes out at home

The Stiffler family bundles up to keep warm in their home since their propane ran out.
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The extreme cold has created a big shortage of propane in Indiana.

Supply is low and prices are high. While Governor Mike Pence is easing restrictions to get more propane delivered to Indiana faster, some state senators want to eliminate sales tax on propane costing more than $2.50 a gallon.

But as the frigid temperatures stick around, families are getting desperate to heat their cold homes.

Danville mother Angela Stiffler home schools her three children, so their home is also their classroom five days a week. Right now, however, the home has no heat. The family's worst nightmare came true several days ago when they ran out of propane, their primary heating source this winter.

"My husband checked the level on the tank several days ago and it was at 30 percent," Angela said. "We knew then that it would not be long before it was empty."

The family also knew getting it refilled would be an issue, too. They had just spent a large amount of money on well repairs at the house and the household budget took a huge hit.

"We called other places to see if we could get some help because our well went out and with the well going out, we have not had the money," said Angela.

She was trying to keep the time span of the possibility of no heat to a minimum not only for her children's sake, but her mother-in-law who lives with them is diabetic and they monitor her health pretty closely.

Once the tank ran empty, the Stifflers started using their salamander gas heater in the house to keep warm. But that didn't last long. After a couple of days, the fan on the salamander suddenly broke. That's when Angela's husband decided to pull the miniature propane tank from their family size gas grill on the back patio.

"We hooked it up by the tank to the propane and we ran it last night and it didn't even last six hours," said Angela.

That put the Stifflers back to square one. So now every family member is doing what they can to keep warm. Her son has even started sporting an insulated motorcycle helmet. Her daughters cuddle with their pet cats and dogs to keep warm, too. Although family and friends have offered them a place of refuge from their temperature-dropping house, they are concerned about leaving their pets behind.

After back-to-back days of sub-zero temperatures outside, the temperatures continue to drop inside. Angela says knowing they could not afford the propane bill her husband's employer came to the rescue.

But their family is still in the cold after calling their propane supplier.

"I called AmeriGas, they said they are running 5-7 days behind. I am assuming it's due to the weather," Angela said.

Once they do get the tank filled, it should last them the rest of the winter, providing the winter weather doesn't last longer than normal. Although the house is about ten degrees colder each day, they are trying to tough it out.