Propane gas is an odorless, explosive fuel used for numerous purposes including heating a home, heating water, barbecuing, cooking, and as an automotive fuel. Propane used for residential or commercial applications must be handled with care, following industry safety regulations.
To be maintained as a gas, propane must be pressurized and held in tanks. When vaporized, the gas is substantially heavier than air and can quickly pool in low areas near the ground, along the floor, in basements and crawlspaces, and outside in ditches.
When propane tanks leak, the gas becomes highly flammable and can easily ignite by static electricity, an electrical spark, smoking material and fire. Because propane has no natural odor, ethyl mercaptan, a chemical additive is mixed with the gas to emit a high sulfuric (rotten egg) odor as a warning to evacuate the area immediately.
A propane explosion can occur anywhere the flammable gas is handled improperly. This includes a propane tank fire or explosion on a construction site, in commercial buildings or private residences. Explosions can be the result of piping coming loose, a leak forming in the tank/piping, or through the failure to follow industry-standard safety regulations.
Causes of Propane Gas Explosion
As a hydrocarbon, propane must be stored as a liquid in a heavy-duty tank under compression and vaporized into a gas to be burned. However, the gas always presents a potentially high risk of explosion because of the pressure in the tank.
Propane gas becomes highly flammable when mixed with oxygen in air. Many propane explosions other results of unsafe practices that include:
- Failure to perform acceptable measures when refilling tanks including forgetting to reignite pilot lights in commercial or residential appliances
- Improperly installing clothes dryers, gas stoves or other gas appliances
- Improperly maintaining the propane gas tank, such as not replacing a worn-out regulator, or in failure to properly maintain any component on the propane gas system
- Insufficiently labeled, mislabeled or no labeling on equipment
- Missing are inadequate inspection of the propane gas tank that should be performed by the propane gas supplier
- Delivering gas that does not contain adequate added chemical odorants, as according to Illinois and federal industry safety requirements
- Propane tank leaks caused by rusted/faulty cylinders, malfunctioning safety valves, broken/incorrect gauges, malfunctioning flow valves, blocked cook top burner and/or perished hoses
- Grill explosions and fires
Many victims of a propane explosion had no previous warning because they never smelled any emission of an added chemical odorant. No noticeable odor in leaking propane might be the result of the gas losing its scent through “odorant fading.” In fact, fading odor of the additive is often the result of the company not properly filling the tank to its full capacity, or when the tank is not maintained properly, leaving it exposed to rust and moisture.
Serious Injuries Associated From Burns & Tank Shrapnel
A propane tank fire or explosion can cause serious injuries, and the increased potential of wrongful death. Without proper inspection of the propane tank and delivery system, victims have an increased potential of receiving third-degree burns caused by a broken or malfunctioning equipment. Many common serious burns involved in a propane gas explosion include:
- Second and third degree burns
- Exposure to highly toxic gas vapors
- Traumatic head, torso and extremity injuries
- Wrongful death
Hiring an Illinois Personal Injury Attorney to Represent You In A Propane Explosion Case
In many incidences, the cause of a propane gas tank fire is the result of a violation of safety practices or codes, a defective or malfunctioning product, a failure to warn, improper storage of the tank or equipment, and/or lack of proper safety training of personnel involved in delivering or maintaining the gas.
A reputable personal injury attorney specializing in propane gas explosions can determine the cause of the accident. Often times, propane companies and component manufacturers attempt to hide their guilt, or deny a defect problem. However, a gas explosion attorney can determine what parties are at fault, and hold them accountable for their actions.
Often times, the propane explosion causes life altering traumatic injuries. Because of that, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers working on behalf of their client can file a claim or lawsuit for financial recompense. This compensation can be used to pay down medical expenses, recoup money from missed work, and provide funds for pain and suffering. Call (888) 424-5757 to speak with an Illinois propane explosion lawyer.