Propane Heater Ignites Gasoline Vapors in Deadly Garage Fire

Occasionally, our the Loss Control team at Pekin Insurance will come across an Auto Repair Shop that has a hot water heater or furnace installed on the floor of an Auto Repair Garage.  On those occasions, insureds do not realize the hazards this creates for them, their employees, and customers.

We feel sharing the following loss makes our point about why this is a potential hazard!

Alberta, Canada—A 39-year-old man who was repairing the fuel pump on a pickup truck in a detached garage died when a propane-fired heater ignited gasoline vapors that had leaked from the truck’s fuel tank.  A 35-year-old woman who had entered the garage just before the fire ignited was also killed.  The man had removed the vehicle’s fuel tank so he could reach the fuel pump, spilling gasoline onto the concrete floor.  When the gasoline vapors reached the propane heater, the vapors ignited in a flash fire that spread across the floor and up the walls to the ceiling.  A third occupant escaped unharmed and called 911 at 6:30 p.m.  The garage valued at $30,000 and its contents, valued at $40,000 were destroyed.  Both victims died of exposure to smoke and heat.  

To avoid a similar, tragedy we always recommend that any auto repair work area not have any open flame sources.  Heating units and hot water heaters should be installed according to NFPA requirements. 

Dan Zeiler

dan@zeiler.com

708.597.5900 x134

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