The Anne Gouker
Tragically, 35 Year Old Mother Dies in Auto Refueling Fire - in
Jennifer Hazen, Editor
September 17, 2002
12, 1996 at 5:42 p.m. in Oklahoma at a convenience store, Anne Gouker,
35 year old mother, stopped to fill up her new red 1996 Camaro.
She would not walk away. In a few hours she would be dead. This
story is one of the most tragic of the many in the on-going auto
refueling fire saga.
Anne began refueling her car like anyone
would do. She put the auto-latch on the nozzle and went around to
the front of the car. She did not get back in the car. No-one knows
if the first ignition was as she walked back to the nozzle or if
there was a fire already in the fuel port area before she touched
The surveillance video, grainy as it
is, seems to show Anne going back to the nozzle area and a flash
occurring. She seems to jump away from the fire and then go back
to the nozzle probably to pull it out to save her new car. Reports
state that Anne pulled the nozzle out by the hose probably because
the nozzle was too hot to touch. When she pulled the hose and nozzle
out of the car, it continued to pump gasoline at almost 10 gallons
per minute all over the car and herself. The fire was like a scene
out of "Back Draft." Anne tried to jump over the car but
fell back into the flames. She laid there until the fire department
the fire out over 12 minutes later. Approximately 100 gallons of
gasoline pumped into the inferno due to the lack of response by
the convenience store personnel to stop the pumps.
As the fire ignited, the store clerk
ran from the store yelling, "get out of the store, get out
of the store." She never hit the stop button (if one existed)
and she never turned the pumps off by the shut off valve. She was
obviously not trained. After several minutes a supervisor for the
convenience store arrived and tried to shut off the pumps. They
needed to use a "quarter" to shut the valve off probably
due to a missing handle on the valve. These problems cost Anne
Gouker her life.
Anne had been told to never pull the nozzle out of the car she would
have lived. If the clerk had shut down the pumps, Anne probably
would have lived.
Anne's story has become the "Poster
Story" for refueling fires. It is her video that has run on
every major network to help alert the public to the dangers of refueling
and static electricity. It is our hope that her death helps others
from making the same mistakes. The mistakes can be so easily avoided
by following a few rules. See "Unsafe-Act"