Mountain, North Carolina Van Fire
November 28, 2002
Jennifer Hazen, Editor (Posted March 9,2003)
1995 Ford Van sustained $13,000 damage (total loss) and
the Texaco Gas Station sustained $40,000 damage in another
static ignited refueling fire. The owner of the 1995 Ford
van, Michael Talbert advised Gary Bartlett, CFI, that
he had driven about 195 miles from Whispering Pines N.C.
and stopped at the Roadrunner Texaco in Back Mountain,
NC for fuel. Mr. Talbert stated that after he exited the
vehicle the first time even before he started refueling,
he felt a shock as he touched the fuel door of the vehicle.
He then used a credit card at the pump to start the transaction.
starting the fuel dispensing, Talbert then returned to
sit in the vehicle due to the cold weather. As he was
sitting in the vehicle he turned on the ignition switch
and watched as the tank filled. As soon as the gauge reached
the "full" indication, Mr. Talbert shut off
the ignition and opened the driver side door returning
to the fill nozzle. He said that as soon as he touched
the nozzle he felt another shock and a fireball flashed
around the filler neck. Mr. Talbert stated that he thought
he may have pulled the hose from the filler neck and dropped
it, however he was not sure if he removed it. The filler
hose was found on the concrete drive by investigators.
fire burned Mr. Talbert on his face and singed his hair.
He retreated to the south and around to the passenger
side of the vehicle to get his wife and two children out
of the vehicle. Both of his daughters and wife were able
to escape the burning vehicle without injury.
Mr. Talbert pumped $35.00 worth of fuel
into the vehicle. He was wearing blue jeans, a cotton
blend sweatshirt and tennis shoes.
The manager of the Texaco station said
that she did not remember whether she had hit the emergency
stop button when the fire occurred. She stated that she
ran from the store exiting the rear of the building. To
the ESD Journal, this sounds like the other cases where
the attendant was not trained to stop the flow of gasoline
to the fire. Where is the training?
At the time of the fire we were under
a cold dry air mass with the temperature at 24 F and the
relative humidity was at 60 %. The investigator states
that these are the right conditions for the presence of
static electricity. We agree.