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Static Fire Stories Articles & Technical Papers Current News
By Jennifer Hazen - June 21, 2002
First report appears in the Southeast Missourian, Reported by Heather Kronmueller, April 8th, 2002

A gasoline refueling fire gutted a Dodge Caravan, destroyed a Mercury
Sable, melted the gasoline pumps and blackened the store's canopy. Luckily
the convenience store building was not damaged.

It is amazing no one was injured in a gasoline refueling fire April 7th at
Huck's Convenience Store at 353 S. Kings Highway in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

While the fire chief stated it could have started one of two ways, van running or spilled fuel, it
just as likely could have been a static discharge. Dodge Caravans were the subject of a 1996 recall for bonding of the fuel port area to the car body. This is one of the most likely places for charging gasoline to ignite the fuel vapors during refueling. We do not know if this van had been modified.

See some of the recalls we have found on the Dodge Caravans:
1996 Fuel Tank May leak
1996 Static charge could cause spark as tank is being filled; vapors could ignite

Witnesses stated the fire looked like a scene from a movie. For Lisa Scherer of Oran, Mo., owner of the minivan, it was like a nightmare. Ms. Scherer and three of her five children were on their way to shop in Cape Girardeau. They stopped at the station to get gas and sodas. Scherer pulled into the station, turned off the vehicle and told her daughters to go inside and get their sodas. As she finished pumping the gas, Scherer said, she pulled the gas nozzle out of the van and saw a ball of fire shooting from the end of it. Ms. Scherer stated that she thought the "van was gonna blow", so she dropped the nozzle and ran.

The scenario stated by Ms. Scherer is typical of a static discharge from the refueling port area to the nozzle as it is removed. This may be a problem with the fuel pumping system or the Dodge Caravan fuel system. Scherer thought she was on fire. Ms. Scherer ran toward the convenience store building. She felt the heat on her back and could smell her hair burning. According to the report by Ms. Kronmueller, Scherer said. "When I got to the building I realized I wasn't, it was just the wind blowing the heat and flames."

There were no other people at the refueling pumps, luckily. Ms. Scherer made it to the store with only singed hair much to the relief of her children.


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