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Knoxville Gas Station Fire Caused by
Static electricity

"I heard something pop, I saw a wall of fire coming at me."
Ray Watson, gas station employee

February 2, 2006
Paraphrased by Steve Waldrop

Fire fighters said an early morning explosion at a Knoxville, Tennessee gas station was caused by static electricity.

Human's BP station located on Western Avenue erupted in flames when static electricity ignited gasoline fumes, said Charlie Barker, spokesman for the Knoxville Fire Department.

Firefighters received the emergency call at 7:39 a.m.. Commuters on their way to work and school suffered delays while traffic was detoured around the area.

Mechanic, Robert Banks, was installing a fuel pump in a car that was elevated by a hydraulic lift when static electricity from his clothing apparently sparked the fire. Banks has over 15 years of experience as a mechanic.

"This guy was underneath the car putting a fuel pump in," Barker said. "He said he felt the static on his clothes and by then it was too late."

Banks was transported to the University of Tennessee Medical Center with burns to his face and arms. He was treated for his injuries and later released.

"I heard something pop," said station employee Ray Watson "I saw a wall of fire coming at me."

When firefighters arrived at the scene, flames were shooting over eight feet from the busted windows of the closed station bay doors.

The fire was contained to the garage area, which was destroyed. Three vehicles in the station bays and a fourth parked outside the bay doors were burned.

Barker said the flames never threatened the gas pumps in front of the station.





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