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

Rob Kernachan editorial cartoon.
Editorial cartoonist focuses on Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt Day is the feature of Rob Kernachan’s contribution this week.… Continue reading

The grads of 2021 at Chemainus Secondary School will be resilient based on their experiences through COVID. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Making the most of grad events

Class of 2021 will carry resilience with them throughout their years based on COVID experience

COVID-19 has made the 2020-21 school year at Chemainus Secondary School interesting and challenging for graduates. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus Secondary School 2021 graduates

Here’s the young men and women who are embarking on life’s next journey

Girls just wanna have fun. From left: Danielle Dela Cruz, Melanie Cheng, Hanna Starkie, Camille Storteboom, Rebecca Rhode, Sian Diewert and Brianne Pamminger at the Crofton seawalk. (Photo by Alana Starkie)
Prom night brings some semblance of normalcy for 2021 Chemainus grads

Being together at least provides class members with some comfort

Tom Millard served his community well for so many years with the Chemainus Fire Department. (Photo submitted)
Millard dedicated himself to community service

Long-time Chemainus Fire Department member and chief remembered for his commitment

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read