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  1. #1
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    Default You have WHAT in your basement?

    Well, no one has ever accused East Thompson of being the deepest part of the gene pool...but this guy is laying on the beach sunning himself:

    June 11. 2003 4:43AM

    Fire chief stunned by find

    1,300 gallons of gas in Thompson home

    John Dignam
    TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF



    THOMPSON- East Thompson Fire Chief Edward Chrabaszcz says he was stunned to learn while talking with a homeowner Monday night after a minor fire at the home that the homeowner was storing 1,300 to 1,600 gallons of gasoline at the house, some within feet of firefighters.

    "I was floored," Chief Chrabaszcz said. "That could have taken out the neighborhood. I have never seen anything like that.

    "We had people in the basement. I got everybody out of there immediately, and we called Connecticut Light and Power and the Department of Environmental Protection," Chief Chrabaszcz said.

    "We were all at least 500 feet away and, I'll tell you, nobody was smoking."

    A flashover from spilled gasoline in the basement of the home of Daniel P. Donovan Sr. and Holly J. Donovan at 1088 Thompson Road caused a minor fire with a little bit of smoke about 5:30 p.m. Monday that Mr. Donovan was able to put out before firefighters arrived, according to Chief Chrabaszcz.

    However, the flashover - exploding gasoline vapors - lifted the house from its foundation, blew a basement door through a wall, moved the chimney six inches, and caused severe structural damage, the chief said.

    He said the interior of the small Cape-style house was destroyed.

    The chief said Mr. Donovan suffered a small scratch on his head from flying debris. Mrs. Donovan and three cats were not injured. The couple are staying with friends.

    "He's lucky to be here to talk about it," Chief Chrabaszcz said of Mr. Donovan.

    He said Mr. Donovan was "embarrassed, scared" and gradually told the chief about the stored gasoline as they discussed the fire.

    According to the chief, Mr. Donovan had adapted the furnace to heat the house with a mixture of gasoline and oil. He said three 275-gallon drums in the basement contained gasoline, as well as containers beside the house and in the garage.

    He said Mr. Donovan had wiped up some spilled gasoline in the basement Monday and gone upstairs. A spark, possibly from a light being switched on or the furnace starting, ignited the vapors.

    Chief Chrabaszcz said only the vapors from the spill exploded. But, he said, all of the gasoline had the potential to explode.

    He said using gasoline to heat a private, single-family home was legal in Connecticut "because it was a single-family home and you can pretty much do what you want to do in your own house. If it were a two-family house, though, that would have been a different matter."

    He said he did not know what Massachusetts laws were in regard to such action in a single-family home.

    Contacted last night, Charlton Fire Chief Ralph W. Harris Sr. was incredulous that anyone would use gasoline in a furnace.

    "It's against the law (in Massachusetts). You can't use gasoline in a furnace. You just don't do it," he said.

    Chief Chrabaszcz said, "I have never seen this amount of gasoline" at a home. "You just never know today what people are going to do, what's in your neighbor's house. We've gone to a trailer fire, put out the fire and found there was a keg of black powder (used to make bullets) by the door.

    "People store pool chemicals, paint thinners, paints just a few feet from their furnaces. Everyone's guilty of that. And any type of ignition - turning on a kitchen light - could set it off.

    "A five-gallon can of gasoline in the basement could do the same thing, although not to this extent," he said.

    Chief Chrabaszcz said the incident was a sobering one for firefighters. "You're at the landowner's mercy. You're in harm's way, and you just don't know until after, and it could be too late. Hopefully, everything comes out all right."

    He said one container in the Donovan basement was covered with debris. "But even if we saw it, it was an oil drum and you would expect oil in it.

    "People just do wrong things," he said, ""But it's done every day of the week."


  2. #2
    Sr. Information Officer NJFFSA16's Avatar
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    Talking

    You never know what people are hiding in their closet.....or basements, for that matter.
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  3. #3
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Question You Never Know.................

    Are you living next door to a bomb factory??? Do you know for sure?? Man, what a fun world we live in, knowing that most of this stupidity is legal. A couple of years back, we got a call for a fuel oil spill in a residential area. We go, expecting to find a few gallons in the street, the usual thing for home heating oil areas. Arriving, the oil truck driver tells us he hooked up to a fill pipe to deliver oil to the home and when the delivery meter hit 400 gallons he became alarmed because he was supposed to be filling a 275 gallon tank. (Rocket science factor) We found about a foot of #2 home heating oil in the basement, AND NO OIL TANK. over the summer, the homeowner had switched to natural gas, removed the oil tank, and FORGOT (his word) to cancel his (automatic delivery) oil contract, and forgot to remove the oil fill line also. To add to the fun, his sump pump was busy pumping out oil into the storm drain system. We have found a lot of things in basements over the years, Rats,Cats,Bats,Snakes,Drug Labs,Firearms, Tanks of ethylmethylbadstuff, (Real bad stuff was moonshine) among other things. Tread lightly. Stay safe....
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  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber EFD840's Avatar
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    Question I don't understand

    Down here, basements are not very common and I've never seen an oil-fired furnace. Our heating-related adventures are pretty much limited to fun with propane so maybe one of y'all can enlighten me. Why would you want to "adapt" your furnace to burn a gasoline and oil mixture? Is it cheaper, does it burn hotter, or was this guy just trying to get a Darwin award?

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber ff7134's Avatar
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    OOOOOHHHHH Boy do I know how that is. A while back we were called out
    for a dryer fire. We got on scene and we had light smoke. Upon entering the structure we found piles and piles and piles of newspaper. We are talking about almost to the ceiling "tunnels" to each room. Well as we are gathering tools I notices a 55 gal drum in the living room. And the contents of this was....you guessed it gas. Boy am I waiting for that place to catch.
    AKA: Mr. Whoo-Whoo

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  6. #6
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Ladies and Gentlemen...

    I believe we have found another candidate for the Darwin Awards!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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  7. #7
    Senior Member WannabeintheFD's Avatar
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    What was he thinking... or not thinking for that matter
    I havent failed, I've found 10,000 ways that don't work.

    - Thomas Edison

  8. #8
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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    Gonzo stole the words right outa my mouth !!!!!! LOL>.......another reason why you should never use the word routine !!!!!!!!
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    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

  9. #9
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Wink Well, I must say.........

    I may have found out why they call it "Electric" Alabama. No Oil furnaces? Wow, hard for this Maryland kid to figure. Oil (Read Kerosene) was, for the last century, about the cheapest fuel out there. That all changed a few years back when #2 home heating oil jumped drastically in price. Here, many homes, including my 3 bedroom brick rancher with full basement, have oil fired furnaces which heat water in a closed circut heat exchanging system. In my case, the hot water circulates thru a baseboard system, providing a dry, even, heat at an economic advantage over Electric baseboards. I burn wood each winter also, cutting my oil bill down even more. Oilburners are usually not something that gives the FD much work, they're fairly close to foolproof (note that I said "Close") Propane, on the other hand, tends to go Boom quite readily. Stay Safe....
    Last edited by hwoods; 06-13-2003 at 12:28 AM.
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    Default

    A short follow-up in the yesterday's paper said the State Fire Marshal's Office is consulting prosecuters if there are charges that can be filed.

    There also investigating the "source" of the gasoline.

    Gasoline is usually 40 to 70 cents more a gallon than home heating oil, even in the worse of a January cold snap maybe the price gets to be even. So it's a fair question why someone would go to all that trouble to burn a more expensive fuel.

    It certainly wasn't unheard of for truck drivers to keep their oil tanks topped off by siphoning some Diesel out of the saddle tanks each time they came home. No. 2 Home Heating Oil, Diesel, Kerosene, and Jet Fuel are all essentially the same. Diesel will burn in a furnace, No. 2 will run a diesel engine (albeit with more smoke and more prone to jelling in the winter). In today's age of satellite tracked trucks and computerized printouts of fuel efficiency, I'm not sure if many truckers can still get away with that trick!

  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber EFD840's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info hwoods and Dal. Hwoods, in my area heating systems are pretty evenly split between electric or gas systems (natural gas where available and propane everywhere else). Wood fireplaces are common as a secondary heat source. The gas systems may be floor furnaces, wall inserts, space heaters, baseboard units, or any combination. Where you guys see fuel oil tankers running around all the time in winter, we see bobtail propane trucks.

    It is a common occurence to have the first line off at a rural mobile home fire dedicated to cooling the propane tank. In addition to exposure concerns at fires, we usually run a couple of propane-related calls each year (folks crashing into the tanks, etc). Propane is so common around here that it is just another threat we train to handle.

  12. #12
    Forum Member ThNozzleman's Avatar
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    It is important to note that it wouldn't matter if you had 10 gallons or 5000 gallons stored.
    Excuse me?? I think it would matter to me.

  13. #13
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Originally posted by TrojanHorse
    Most home heating systems burn number 2 fuel oil (aka desiel). The tanks are usually 250 gallons. It is important to note that it wouldn't matter if you had 10 gallons or 5000 gallons stored. What matters are the vapors and the ammount of evapaoration in the basement. Gasoline in liquid form doesn't burn.
    It does matter!

    How about the flashpoint and autoignition temperature of gasoline? Vapor density of gasoline? Ignition sources in the basement? Improperly designed and installed tank and fuel delivery systems?
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 06-14-2003 at 08:22 AM.
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  14. #14
    Forum Member nmfire's Avatar
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    Lets pretend he actually found a way to heat his home cheaper using gasoline, just for the sake of my next statement... WHY THE HELL DOES HE NEED 1,600 GALLONS OF IT IN STORAGE!!!!!!!! For god sake, we have a 250gal oil tank and it works fine. Would 250gal GASOLINE tank not have accomplished the same thing???

    Maybe he got a quanity discount?
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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