A fifth wheel travel trailer was destroyed, but no one was hurt, when sparks ignited a propane leak in Nanaimo Thursday. (News Bulletin file photo)

Propane explosion destroys fifth wheel in Nanaimo

No one hurt but trailer destroyed when propane leak ignites in Harewood

A man inside a fifth wheel trailer was unhurt when a propane explosion destroyed the vehicle parked next to a home in Nanaimo.

Firefighters responded Thursday, Nov. 23 at about 2:45 p.m. to a home on Fourth Street, near Chesterlea Avenue, where they found a heavily damaged fifth wheel trailer, but no fire.

According to Alan Millbank, Nanaimo Fire Rescue fire prevention officer, the explosion was triggered by sparks in a blower fan motor that ignited a propane leak, but it was a sequence of events that set up the conditions for the explosion that was powerful enough to blow apart the back of the trailer and send its door flying several metres away to land on the property’s front lawn.

Millbank said the trailer’s previous owner had at some point replaced the unit’s propane-powered refrigerator with an electric one, but never capped off the propane line that fed the old fridge. On Thursday afternoon, a friend of the owner who was doing some maintenance work decided to test the trailer’s propane stove, which required opening the main propane line to feed the stove. After the test there was a delay while he answered a text on his cell phone before he shut off the line, which was still connected to the old refrigerator line.

Millbank said the man also mentioned his sense of smell had been damaged from working in a mill and couldn’t smell the gas flowing into the trailer’s cabin. When the trailer’s interior temperature dropped, the trailer’s heating system thermostat automatically turned on its furnace.

“He did shut the gas off, but there was enough gas left over that when the thermostat kicked in for the blower, the fan motor ignited the gas and the furnace was right next to where that line was,” Millbank said. “It was right beneath the old fridge. He wouldn’t have known.”

The propane ignition singed the man’s hair, but he appeared otherwise uninjured and the burning gas did not start any secondary fires. Millbank said it was fortunate the victim was not seriously injured.

“I think he was in a little bit of shock, myself, but he refused medical attention,” Millbank said.

A teenager who was home at the time of the incident was also unhurt.

The fifth wheel was not insured and is a total loss.

“With all these kinds of disasters it’s usually not one thing that causes them,” Millbank said. “It’s a sequence of failures that line up … it was just a matter of time before something like this happened, actually. I could have happened to anybody.”



photos@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mother bear and two cubs spotted in Crown Isle neighbourhood in Courtenay

Reduce the risk of an interaction by removing potential food sources

Mount Washington to open Dec. 4 with COVID-19 protocols in place

Reservations for some services, face coverings will be required

‘Bad blood’ over pathology issue, says Island Health medical director

Regional hospital district board pushes for pathology service in Courtenay, Campbell River

New Cumberland fire hall goes to rezoning hearing

Official community plan is also to be amended for the site

Suspect robs store, stabs clerk in Courtenay

Comox Valley RCMP are looking for suspect in Ryan Road incident

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Comox Valley Beefs & Bouquets, week of Sept. 15

Beef to the gnome thief; bouquet to dental hygienists

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Most Read