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Old 03-08-2012, 08:28 PM   #1
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Freaked us out

We were sitting around, heard the sirens, looked up and saw the smoke, knew it was very close to us. All of a sudden we heard two huge explosions and went running towards the smoke. A Class B was taking on propane and exploded, somehow. We watched it burn for it seemed like hours before the F.D. got there; I believe they were preparing for the worst with that big propane tank next to the burning coach. The owner of the coach had been in the store and the attendent who was pumping the propane shut the big tank down and grabbed a extinguisher, to no avail. I talked with her, and she said she happened to look out the window as he hooked-up the propane to her coach, and the whole thing exploded! So, no one killed, town still on the map; what do we have to learn? My feeling, is the guy forgot to shut her main line down and her pilot light was still on and the pressure of the propane input fired the coach. I've always shut the main down myself, and will continue to do so. This could have been a huge disaster; it is for the gal from British Columbia who's vacation is shot.
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Old 03-08-2012, 08:39 PM   #2
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I fill propane and I always ask motorhome or trailer owners if their pilot lights are off.
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Old 03-08-2012, 08:49 PM   #3
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From the looks of it that could have been way worse. Glad to hear no one killed or injured. Hope insurance will take care of everything for her.

Like you mentioned, I for sure know now what I'll be doing first whenever we pull in for propane.
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Old 03-08-2012, 08:50 PM   #4
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What was scarry, was how hot and fast that fire became; someone was smiling that the gas tank didn't explode.
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Old 03-08-2012, 08:54 PM   #5
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thats a ugly sight,,,,
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Old 03-08-2012, 09:06 PM   #6
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Ugh, that's horrible.

I still don't understand why motorhomes have built-in propane tanks. I hated how I had to drive the B190 somewhere every time I needed propane; it's much easier to disconnect the tank on the trailer and take it to the local gas station for a refill. And, yes, I've had to fill it while my cat was in the B190...I'm glad we never had this problem!
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Old 03-08-2012, 09:14 PM   #7
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And, yes, I've had to fill it while my cat was in the B190...
Let that be a lesson to us all.
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Old 03-08-2012, 09:29 PM   #8
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I just talked with her, our kind traveling community fed her (plus a couple of shots of good bourbon) and gave her a place to stay until she can get on her feet.
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Old 03-08-2012, 09:45 PM   #9
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Mike I was taught on my gas training course that banging two pieces of brass together can ignite propane. You mention that it exploded as he was hooking up the fill hose. I always connect the fill hose carefully so as not to bang it into the fill valve with any force. Unless he had already started to fill the tank a pilot light wouldn't have started that fire. I have no way to know for sure but it is worth mentioning so everyone makes sure another attendant is careful when connecting the fill hose nozzle. There are plenty of untrained people using this fill stations. It's also possible that he opened the bleed valve before connecting the hose.
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Old 03-08-2012, 11:49 PM   #10
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Ugh, that's horrible.

I still don't understand why motorhomes have built-in propane tanks. I hated how I had to drive the B190 somewhere every time I needed propane; it's much easier to disconnect the tank on the trailer and take it to the local gas station for a refill. And, yes, I've had to fill it while my cat was in the B190...I'm glad we never had this problem!
I'm guessing there are issues with making the tank portable and still having capacity... Even hauling 2-20lbers around is pretty heavy... You'd need a lot more space to have a removable tank and the room to get the tank(s) in and out.

I big built-in tank is pretty convenient for most people.

As for why it blew... who knows... the pressure regulator on the tank should have protected anything downstream even it the main line wasn't turned off.

I had a mini-fire in the water-heater compartment last year... stupid spiders plugged up the tube and it started to burn at the mixture control tube. Luckily it burnt the thermal fuse and shut off... Could have eventually burnt up...

I find it quite amazing with gasoline, propane, etc... that there aren't more disasters... crappy equipment and speedily trained (if at all) attendants would seem to add up to more 'kabooms'.
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Old 03-09-2012, 03:26 AM   #11
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"... banging two pieces of brass together can ignite propane."

I used to work with explosives; and brass fittings and tools were used in certain applications, because they didn't cause sparks. Not to say that this possibility can or should be completely ruled out, but I would suspect that either an electrical spark or open flame is the more likely cause.
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Old 03-09-2012, 06:37 AM   #12
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Ummm, scary!!

Glad no one was hurt, a miracle.


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Old 03-09-2012, 08:54 AM   #13
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An interesting booklet on static electricity and propane is available from propanesafety.com. That link is here.

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Old 03-09-2012, 09:14 AM   #14
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Thank you for sharing this story. So glad no one was hurt. But, it's a great lesson for all of us. Cheers!!
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