Static Fire Destroys Tucson Man's
by Jennifer Hazen
Tucson March 7, 2002:
Tenney, 80, was treated at St. Mary's Hospital
in Tucson, Arizona for first- and second-degree burns on his shoulder,
buttock and leg. The car, a 1994 Geo Tracker, was destroyed in the
fire as was the dispensing pump. The canopy over the refueling island
also sustained damage.
Investigators are reviewing a surveillance
video of the area at the am/pm market and gasoline station at South
Park Avenue and East Benson Highway, said Tucson Fire Battalion
Chief Randy Ogden. In the video, Mr. Tenney can be seen running
from the car with his hand and arm on fire. We hope to bring a streaming
segment of this video soon.
The fire was reported by Assistant
Fire Chief Dan Larkin, who was driving by the convenience store
and saw the flames.
Mr. Tenney was seen on the video to
start the refueling process. He then went to the driver's side of
the car and sat down in the driver's seat. He was filling out a
log book which he kept in the car. When the nozzle clicked off after
about 7-8 gallons, Mr. Tenney is seen to get out of the car with
his log book in his hand and go back to the nozzle area where he
stood for a few seconds before he reached down to take the nozzle
out. Mr. Tenney stated that he did not "top off" the fuel
As he was pulling the nozzle out of
the car, the fuel port area ignited. Within a short time after the
initial ignition, a flame trail was observed on the video on the
ground behind the vehicle.
The weather conditions at the time
of the incident were 70 degrees F, 7% RH.
This fire seems to be the typical "re-entry"
type. Mr. Tenney charged himself after he started the refueling
process. When he touched the nozzle, he discharged in the fuel vapor
rich area of the fuel port on his car. If he had touched anything
metal before the nozzle, he would not have caused the fire. This
warning needs to be obvious on all gasoline pumps.
Editor's note: Please send any information
on Auto Refueling Fires to the ESD Journal click the email button