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Another Gas Pump Fire in Waynesville, NC injures 12-year old Girl


By: Elizabeth Nelson

Unfortunately, another fire occurred due to static electricity at a gas pump on Wednesday, March 28, 2001. A 12 year old girl from Sylva, NC was removing the gas nozzle from a car at the above pictured Enmark gas station when she received second and possibly third degree burns on her left leg. Her hands are also badly burned, according to Firefighters.

Even though Firefighters call this a bizarre accident, the ESD Journal has reported on gas pump fires numerous times. The fires are more frequent than some people believe, but they are linked together by officials and given coverage.

The accident happened early Wednesday morning outside of Ashville, NC. The young girl exited the car and went to pull the nozzle from the tank when she saw a spark. She jumped back and her mother exited the car and removed the nozzle from the car. The gas the spilled from the nozzle burnt the 12 year old girl's legs and hands. Approximately $20.00 in gas had been pumped into the 1998 Isuzu Trooper.

Mrs. Radcliffe begin pumping gas and then locked the nozzle to continue filling up the SUV and then entered her car to write a check for the gas. She was still in the car when her daughter exited the car and removed the nozzle from the tank. Right as she went to remove the nozzle from the vehicle, a static electricity spark ignited a cloud of fumes. The girl took a step back from the gas pump and the gas tank door, which had gasoline on it, caught on fire. Mrs. Radcliffe exited the car to help her daughter and removed the nozzle from the tank. Since the nozzle was on the locked on position, gas splashed onto the girls jeans. This hot gas created the burns on the girls legs.

An Enmark station attendant shut the pump off with an emergency switch. This may have saved the girl from worse burns. The child was then taken to Haywood Regional Medical Center in Cylde, where she is still recovering.

Waynesville Fire Chief Bill Fowler believes that the accident may have been caused by static electricity that developed on the girl's clothing (a sweater and jacket) or from her long hair.

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