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

Duration of Tour de Rock stop in Chemainus much shorter than usual

Four alumni riders don’t get to come for breakfast in COVID year

Celebrating 50 years of Rotary in action

The Rotary Club of Ladysmith was formed September 20, 1970

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Paul Manly reacts to Liberal throne speech

Manly says the Liberals need to back up their promises with action

Island Savings closes Ladysmith branch

Ladysmith branch members can be served by the Chemainus branch

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

Lightning strike: Tampa Bay blanks Dallas 2-0 to win Stanley Cup

Hedman wins Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP

Shawnigan Lake’s Kubica gets 25 to life for murder in California

Former Shawnigan Lake man convicted of killing woman in 1990

Liberals seek to fast track new COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires

Government secured NDP support for legislation by hiking amount of benefits by $100 to $500 per week

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. VOTES 2020: Echoes of HST in B.C. debate over sales tax

Cannabis, tobacco, luxury cars still taxed in B.C. Liberal plan

She warned her son about toxic drugs, then he was dead

Donna Bridgman’s son died at the age of 38 in Vancouver

B.C. food and beverage producers set record sales in 2019

Farmed salmon again leads international exports

Police seek help in naming Cowichan farm stand theft suspect

Video captured man prying cash box out of stand on Norcross Road

Most Read