'Espanola vehicle explosion likely caused by cigarette'


#1
    'Authorities say a vehicle explosion in Espanola that injured two people was ignited when a lit cigarette came into contact with a

canister of oxygen.
'New Mexico State Police said Saturday that Henry Wilton and Eric Lucero are hospitalized with severe injuries at an Albuquerque hospital.
'According to Sgt. Elizabeth Armijo, Wilton was driving a Jeep Friday morning that was carrying 15 oxygen canisters.
‘Lucero, the only other passenger, reached back while holding a lit cigarette in his hand to stop a canister from leaking.’

http://www.abqjournal.com/758431/abqnewsseeker/espanola-vehicle-explosion-likely-caused-by-cigarette.html

#2

Oxygen doesn’t explode. It promotes the burn. It doesn’t itself, burn or explode.


#3

There may have been another canister with flammable contants. The oxygen may have promotes the flammability.

The stater trooper may be confused about what was in the cylinder that exploded, and may even think also that oxygen is flammable.

Yosemite


#4

Maybe the lit cigarette was inadvertently placed into the oxygen leak. The oxygen flow may have create a flame at the cigarette that followed the oxygen into the tank, causing the explosion. I’m just brainstorming how it might have happened.


#5

Maybe the cigarette had absolutely nothing to do with it.


#6

Oxygen doesn’t explode, so it wouldn’t follow the leak back.


#7

Oxygen enriched atmospheres are very dangerous. While oxygen itself does not burn, the lay person thinks that a fire caused by O2 enrichment is caused by the O2 burning. I heard of a welder who turned the acetylene off on his torch, used the O2 to blow the dust off of himself, went outside to smoke and his clothes burst into flames, he was seriously injured. The non technical person sees this as the O2 burning.

If this car had an O2 tank leaking for a while, all the upholstery could have been soaked with O2, lite a cigarette and they end up having a very bad day.

A good link on the dangers of enriched O2 follows.

http://www.boconline.co.uk/en/sheq/gas-safety/gas-risks/oxygen-gas-risks/oxygen-gas-risks.html


#8

I can see how mixing acetylene and O2 could be explosive, and even more so with extra O2 in the air. But I don’t see how O2 , no matter how much there was, could combine with a cigarette to explode. For an explosion to occur there would have to be some volatile hydrocarbon source, such as gasoline. If there were gasoline fumes in the cabin for some reason, then that mixture could be explosive even without O2 cannisters, and really explosive with O2 cannisters which were leaking. Perhaps that’s the actual cause. Or the canisters won’t just O2, maybe something else.

I think that explosion fire they had at NASA in the early days of Apollo was caused by a very high O2 atmosphere and some kind of tape or something was providing the hydrocarbon source.


#9

An updated article that says that ‘a can of explosive substance’ blew up.


#10

I think Steve has a point. The upholstery and rugs could have been saturated with O2, which makes a explosive combination.


#11

Heck, “oxyliquid” has been used as a blasting agent in mining. Simply pulverized coal soaked in liquid O2. It’s “safer” than conventional explosives, the thinking goes, because in the event it fails to explode, you simply wait for the O2 to boil off, and you have ground coal in the blast hole, nothing more.


#12

Someone with an O2 tank could do the experiment . I’m not recommending this mind you, could be dangerous … but what I mean is you could in theory take an old cotton t-shirt, put it in a cardboard box to which you fill with O2, let the cotton soak up the O2 for 15 minutes, then take the cotton t shirt out of the box, lay it outside on the cement, and test if it is more combustible than a non-O2-treated t-shirt.


#13

George your experiment would not be a good test as the O2 would vent off, the O2 needs to be contained, like soaked in upholstery or trapped in layers of clothing . I was in the hazardous gas detection business for 40 years and am very aware of the risks associated with enriched O2. I was unfortunately called many times to help investigate cause/origin of industrial accidents, fires, explosions and confined space deaths. Fortunately enriched O2 is found in limited applications, medical, steel and a few chemical plants and is usually well controlled. The accidents like the link below are usually home bound people on O2 who still insist on smoking.

Years ago I saw a Mr Wizard type show where a lit cigarette was dropped into a beaker of O2, the cigarette was instantly consumed in flame. Enriched O2 will make things normally not flammable very flammable, does not have to be a hydrocarbon vapor, just something that can burn. But cotton, plastic, cigarettes are all hydrocarbons, just not vapors.

Now that I read the latest news report the OP talked about, it seems that some type of canister was the origin of the fire/explosion. While the information is limited, I am going to make the assumption that these folks were huffing and had a cigarette that set this stuff off.

http://archive.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/05/12/fire_officials_warn_of_oxygen_tank_dangers/


#14

Some job these guys did, in the picture the soft top side window is hanging from a utility wire.


#15

Heck, if you think 100% O2 is a strong oxidizer, look up Chlorine triflouride sometime! It’s unbelievably strong oxidizer; is hypergolic with essentially every known fuel; will burn substances like cement, asbestos and sand. It decomposes into the lovely HF. There was an industrial spill of it, witnesses say it burned through the concrete floor of the factory, and an additional 2’ of earth beneath. It explodes if exposed to water. The safety procedures for a spill are essentially, “run.” Germany planned to use it on the Maginot line fortifications…but were scared to handle the stuff. Makes pretty much everybody’s “top 10 deadliest.”


#16

Hmmmm … you don’t suppose the Globe staff reporter could have gotten it wrong, do you?
They’re all geniuses you know. :smiley:


#17
I can see how mixing acetylene and O2 could be explosive, and even more so with extra O2 in the air. But I don't see how O2 , no matter how much there was, could combine with a cigarette to explode. For an explosion to occur there would have to be some volatile hydrocarbon source, such as gasoline.

We used to fill a jar with oxygen from a welding torch and then drop lit cigarettes or pieces of smoldering cotton twine into it to watch it glow real bright and then burst into flame, but no, the oxygen itself did not explode or burn.

Heck, "oxyliquid" has been used as a blasting agent in mining. Simply pulverized coal soaked in liquid O2. It's "safer" than conventional explosives, the thinking goes, because in the event it fails to explode, you simply wait for the O2 to boil off, and you have ground coal in the blast hole, nothing more.

Old fashioned gunpowder was nothing more than pulverized charcoal mixed with a little sulfur and a bunch of potassium nitrate, which releases pure oxygen when heated. People who have experimented with homemade gunpowder report that leaving the sulfur out will still result in a usable gunpowder, it’s just harder to ignite.
Pure potassium nitrate by itself is fairly inert, and it has sort of a bitter taste.


#18

An old woman, a dedicated smoker, apparently fell asleep, her cigarette burned through the hose from her oxygen supply, accelerating the burning of her bed linens, killing her, a few years ago.

The smoker in the original story beat his girlfriend to death a few years back; I wouldn’t put anything past him.


#19

Another candidate for the “Darwin Awards”.


#20

article describes his beating incident with girlfriend. Seems he got his punishment.