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BOISE, Idaho - Last week, a very alarming incident occurred at a local self-service gas station that serves as a reminder that gasoline is a highly flammable product that demands some precautions when it is transferred.

A woman, while fueling her vehicle, got back into her vehicle to write out the check. The automatic nozzle shut off, and she got out of her vehicle to finish fueling. When she touched the nozzle, a static electricity buildup discharged, igniting gas fumes in the nozzle/fill pipe area. She was able to remove the nozzle and extinguish the flames, but this is a sobering reminder of what can happen when static electricity is combined with a highly flammable product.

A simple precaution to avoid this potential problem is to stay near the vehicle's fueling point. If you must reenter your vehicle, discharge the static electricity buildup when you get out by touching the outside metal portion of your vehicle, away from the filling point, before attempting to remove the nozzle.

Anyone interested in learning more about how static electricity buildup can cause fires at the pump can check out the Petroleum Equipment Institute's video "Stop Static" by calling ISDA's Bureau of Weights and Measures at 208-332-8690, or by accessing PEI's website at

For more information contact Tom Schafer, Idaho State Department of Agriculture, at 208-332-8690

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