Causes Of Gas Explosions

Last updated on: November 26, 2014

Call (800) 863-5312 to Speak with personal injury attorneys near you

A gas explosion can occur for a variety of reasons that may include faulty equipment or appliances, gas leaks, or improper use of a gas appliance. Gases are chemicals, and when improperly stored or exposed to an ignition source that produces heat or fire, can explode.

Both before and after gas explosions, harmful fumes are released into the air; these and the high temperatures of the explosion can cause property damage, severe gas explosion injuries, or death. Protect yourself and your family by being aware of how gas explosions occur to avoid causing one.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a gas explosion or needs assistance with how to deal with gas explosion trauma, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation and to find a personal injury attorney near you.

Common causes of gas explosion accidents

Gas explosions most commonly occur in work settings where large quantities of gas may be stored. Improperly stored gases, worker negligence, or unsafe working conditions can put people at risk for an explosion. A worker who deals with gases has a responsibility to keep themselves and others safe by making the workplace free of hazards. The employer should provide workers with adequate knowledge on how to handle gases safely; if a gas explosion occurs at work despite such precautions, you may be able to bring a workers’ compensation claim, where your employer will pay your damages.

When gas explosions occur in the home, they are often caused by improperly maintained gas appliances. Gas explosions in the home that occur due to a design defect, manufacturer’s defect, or improper installation could give rise to third party liability. A homeowner will typically not be held responsible for these types of accidents, but a gas explosion in the home can nevertheless be traumatizing and deadly.

common types of gas explosions

Gas explosions can happen where a large quantity of gas is stored in a single place. Storage can be in a propane tank, in a manufacturing plant, a gas line, or a fuel tank. It is important to use caution when dealing with flammable chemicals such as gases, to prevent explosions.

Industrial Explosions

Industrial explosions may occur at a warehouse or manufacturing plant where chemicals and gases are stored in large quantities. People who work around gases in facilities like these should be educated on how to handle them safely and what to do if they suspect a gas leak.

Gas explosions that occur in an industrial setting usually involve the use of vehicles to transport explosive gases, faulty electrical equipment, or chemical spills. Report spills immediately and follow implemented procedures for chemical leaks and gas spills. It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is to use extreme caution while handling chemicals at work, for large explosions in industrial settings undoubtedly have a negative effect on the surrounding environment as well, by polluting the air and endangering the lives of all those who happen to live or work nearby.

Residential Explosions

Gas explosions may occur in the home due to large appliances that use gas. Common gas appliances include boilers, furnaces, and ovens. Many people use natural gas or propane for boilers or furnaces to supply heat to their homes in the winter. Modern appliances are typically safe and efficient if they are installed correctly, but faulty wiring or improper installation could be deadly.

If the manufacturer designed the appliance with a dangerous defect that causes gas to leak, then the risk of explosion is higher. Appliances such as stoves and ovens that leak a small amount of gas over time can cause gas to accumulate if there is not enough ventilation in the home. Any small spark or heat source in the home could cause this accumulated gas to ignite and cause an explosion.

Propane Tanks

Propane is an extremely flammable gas that can be found stored in a tank in many homes for use in water heaters, air conditioners, furnaces, and outdoor grills. Propane leaks are easily detectable because of the distinct odor.

Propane tanks are designed to be safe to store in the home and usually will not explode on their own. However, factors such as improper maintenance or storage, misuse, improper disposal, or manufacturing defects are the most common causes of propane explosions.

Fuel Tanks

Fuel tanks can be found in both residences and industrial businesses to store propane, petroleum gasoline, or other types of gases. Car fuel tanks may explode if the driver is involved in a collision that causes the tank to leak or catch fire. Most gases are combustible and highly flammable and should clearly indicate this on the tank as well as identify the type of gas it holds.

Proper storage, such as in a cool place out of direct sunlight, is important to prevent any accidents. Valves and lids should be closed tightly to prevent leakage. Any leaks that are seen or smelled should be addressed immediately.

gas explosion statistics

According to research in a 2018 study conducted by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated average of 4,200 home fires occurs due to the ignition of natural gas. These fires cause an average of 40 deaths per year. Most gas explosions involve some type of leak. In the United States, local fire departments respond to an average of 340 gas leaks per day.

The National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) speculates that many of the leaks come from gas grills or cylinders rather than gas distribution systems. Cooking equipment was involved in 54% of fires and explosions, while water heaters and heating equipment accounted for 25%. In the event of natural gas leaks from pipelines in the home, most leaks had been reported, and the utility company was investigating before the explosion.

common injuries from a gas explosion

Gas explosions can cause not only fire injuries, but blast injuries as well. Flying debris from the explosion can cause serious injuries. Smoke or chemical inhalation causes damage to the lungs. Witnessing a gas explosion may also be terrifying and cause psychological harm as well.

Fire Injuries

Chemical burns from exploding gas can be devastating. The gas may not only be corrosive, but it may be extremely hot during an explosion. Fires may result from the explosion, which could case serious burns if you are caught in any of them after the explosion. As stated before, smoke inhalation from the fire can cause serious harm or even death. Chemical inhalation of the fumes can also be lethal.

There are three types of burns that can result from exposure to an explosion of gas. First-degree burns only damage the outer layer of skin. Second-degree burns damage both the outer layer and the layer beneath the first layer. Third-degree burns damage the deepest layers of the skin and the underlying tissue beneath it.

Burns can cause blistering, swelling, shock, and even death. Burns can also leave victims with serious scarring that can continue to be painful. Continual suffering can also occur in the form of permanent scarring, which is life-changing and may be compounded by psychological trauma.

Blast Injuries

When gas-fueled explosions send debris flying through the air, people and animals nearby may suffer eye injuries; projectiles may also lacerate or penetrate their skin. Sometimes the shock wave after an explosion can cause soft tissue damage. Depending on the magnitude of the explosion, the blast could also damage your ears.

Psychological Injuries

Experiencing a traumatic event such as an explosion can easily cause psychological harm. Some witnesses as well as victims of gas explosions have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or anxiety. If the explosion happened at work, you may find it difficult to return to work or to feel safe in that environment. If the explosion occurred at home, you may experience the emotional difficulty of losing your home and the sentimental items you may have lost.

Fire safety tips

In the event of a gas fire in the home, it is important to know how to put the fire out without causing an explosion.

Kitchen Fires

If there is a fire on the stove due to grease, smother the fire with baking soda or cover the fire with a lid. Never use water to put out a grease fire. It is helpful to keep a fire extinguisher in the home to put out small kitchen fires.

If there is a fire in your microwave or oven, shut the door and unplug or turn off the appliance. The lack of oxygen should put out the fire.

Electrical Fires

If there is a fire at your wall outlet from overloading the outlet using extension cords or using a light bulb with wattage higher than recommended, smother the flames with a blanket. Do not use water on an electrical fire. Turn off the power from your breaker box or unplug the device if possible.

Vehicle Fires

If your car catches fire after a car accident or due to a mechanical or electrical reason, turn off the ignition and exit the car as quickly as possible. Retreat to a safe distance and dial 911. Do not attempt to open the hood of the car.

Get Help from gas explosion lawyers

At Zinda Law Group, our personal injury attorneys are experienced and know how to handle gas explosion cases. We have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you determine what to do next and to help recover the best possible outcome for your case.

Call us today at (800) 863-5312 for a free and confidential consultation with one of our gas explosion attorneys. You will pay nothing unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.

Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.