With the high cost of gasoline, some people are going to drastic measures. In one case in Dartmouth, Connecticut, a couple tried hoarding gasoline in their apartment. Their plan went wrong when fumes ignited and caused a fire.
As a result, approximately 15 residents from eight units in the complex were displaced. If not for the sprinklers, the building could have very well burned to the ground.
The couple was living in a second floor unit in an apartment complex and kept an estimated 45 gallons in nine plastic jugs. To further complicate matters, the jugs were covered in rags and stacked in a hallway closet that housed the air conditioning unit.
The damage went beyond the smoke and flames. The gasoline from the jugs mixed with water from sprinklers and firefighters’ lines and the contaminated water spread to nearby apartments.
When the contaminated water was discovered, firefighters had to immediately be washed down to protect them from exposure. A cleanup crew had to remove the contamination and take soil samples for evaluation.
In South Carolina, a woman who was hoarding gasoline caught on fire after her vehicle crashed and burst into flames. She was attempting to outrun law enforcement, lost control of her vehicle and then flipped.
She had been hoarding several containers of fuel in the trunk of her car.
If you must store small amounts of gaslone – for example for your lawnmower or boat – use only approved containers. These containers should be airtight and should have a pouring spout to prevent spills. Leave at least two inches of space at the top of the can for vapor expansion.
When transporting gasoline, keep the container on the floor of your backseat with the windows rolled down. Gasoline should be transported for short distances only.
Keep in mind that hoarding gasoline indoors is not only illegal but very risky – it’s just not worth the effort.
Cinda Seamon is the fire and life safety educator for Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue.