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Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service - Preventing, Protecting, Responding

Safety warning follows ‘explosions’ in outbuildings

25/02/2014

Firefighters in Staffordshire are urging people to keep gas cylinders well away from fuel and flames following two blazes.

"The owners of both of these workshops/garages were extremely lucky - the consequences could easily have been much worse. They were both potentially life-threatening incidents and it was incredible that no-one was seriously hurt as a result." 

Station Manager Dale Harrison

Gas cylinders have the potential to be highly explosive and can cause extensive damage if stored in the wrong environment.

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service has attended two incidents involving gas cylinders over the weekend.

Two crews from Stone, two from Longton and the water carrier from Cheadle tackled a fire that broke out in a workshop at 4.30am on Saturday.

A home-made log burning stove is thought to have been left smouldering in the outbuilding on Outlanes, Oulton Heath, where butane cylinders, oil drums and car engines were being stored.

However, due to the construction and fitting of the stove, the fire did not go out and some of the embers escaped from their container – the base of a barbecue - and set the garage alight. The flames quickly spread to the gas cylinders, causing them, and some of the oil drums, to explode.

The owner of the workshop dialled 999 after hearing a loud bang. Firefighters used one hose reel jet and two main jets to extinguish the blaze before using compressed air foam and damping down. They left the scene at 7.38am.

A similar incident took place at 5.11pm on Friday, February 21 in a stand-alone garage sited next to a property on Porthill Bank in Newcastle.

Propane heaters were being used to warm up the outbuilding while the owner was working on vehicles inside it. Petrol fumes from a motorbike that was being drained of fuel came into contact with the naked flames and caught fire.

Firefighters from Sandyford and Newcastle used one hose reel jet to extinguish the blaze. They left the scene at 5.45pm.

Station Manager Dale Harrison, who led the Oulton Heath incident, said: "The owners of both of these workshops/garages were extremely lucky - the consequences could easily have been much worse. They were both potentially life-threatening incidents and it was incredible that no-one was seriously hurt as a result.

"People need to know that you simply can’t take any chances whatsoever when it comes to gas or fuel and naked flames. Once they come into contact, the reaction is immediate and the fire spreads rapidly.

"If you want to use a heater in an outbuilding, buy one that meets the safety regulations and have it installed professionally. I would also urge people to dispose of their gas cylinders once they have been used. Each cylinder will have the contact details of a company that can pick the cylinder up and take it away so you don’t need to have them sitting around your garage."