A static charge caused an arc which led to a fire and explosion that destroyed a PF&E Oil truck in Early on May 6, a press release from Early Fire Marshal Seth Ringler’s office states.
The fire, which began as the PF&E driver pumped diesel fuel into a tank behind the Early Fire Department and Utility Department building, injured the driver.
He was identified by family members on social media as Chad Pachall and was flown by Air Evac Lifeteam to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.
The press release said “many factors came together” to cause the fire.
The press release follows:
After an investigation of all the evidence and contributing factors a determination has been made to the cause of the explosion and fire that occurred on May 6.
There were many factors that came together to cause this explosion and fire. On that day a delivery driver was delivering clear diesel into a metal 500 gallon storage tank located behind the Public Works and Fire Department for the City of Early. At the time of the incident, there was a very low humidity. The fuel truck delivering the fuel was not using any form or equipment for grounding and bonding the truck to the fuel tank.
Grounding is a common technique used to reduce or eliminate the change for static electricity or spark. The diesel fuel tank being filled by the fuel truck was low on fuel
which allowed more room for diesel vapors inside the tank. The day of the delivery and previous days leading up to the incident were unseasonably hot. The high heat can ccontribute to vaporing of the fuel.
As the tank was being filled, the flow of the fuel was entraining air into the tank adding oxygen. This was creating an ideal mixture of fuel and oxygen. As the fuel flowed into the tank and through the fill hose it created a static charge. The static charge caused an arc to happen where the nozzle was in contact with the opening of the tank where it was being filled. This arc ignited the fuel air mixture inside the tank which caused the explosion and subsequent fire.
There has been great public concern about the cause of this explosion, because many people believe it is uncommon for diesel to react in such a manner. This should serve as a reminder to everyone that without proper safety precautions and all the right conditions accidents such as this can happen. Always take the necessary precautions to reduce the chance of static spark or other causes of fire and explosion when around flammable materials.