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)

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

Just Posted

A slide on best practices when reporting a suspected impaired driver that was presented to Parksville city council on June 7 by Margarita Bernard, a volunteer with MADD. The organization’s Report Impaired Drivers campaign involves the installation of informative signs within the City of Parksville. (Mandy Moraes photo)
MADD brings campaign to report impaired drivers to Parksville

Aim is to raise awareness that 911 should be called

Pam Bottomley (executive director), right and Sandy Hurley (president) of the Parksville Downtown Business Association visit the PQB News/VI Free Daily studio. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Downtown Parksville gears up for post-pandemic bounce back

Podcast: Hurley, Bottomley chat about what’s ahead for the PDBA

(Black Press file photo)
RCMP: Air ambulance called to Whiskey Creek after crash involving 2 motorbikes

Both riders taken to hospital with serious injuries

(File photo)
Crime report: Crooks busy pilfering bikes throughout Parksville Qualicum Beach area

Thefts among 295 complaints Oceanside RCMP deal with in one-week period

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

A still image from security camera video recorded June 8 shows an individual lighting trash on fire in the doorway of 19+ Cannabis Store on Victoria Crescent. RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue are investigating numerous fires set in downtown Nanaimo in the past three months. (Photo submitted)
‘It’s out of control’: More than 20 fires set in downtown Nanaimo in past 3 months

Authorities asking business owners to keep dumpsters locked

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Most Read