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Worker burned when blow torch ignites fuel tank

February 11, 2002

Worker burned when blow torch ignites fuel tank



CHEWSVILLE - An Elwood's Auto Exchange employee singed his hair, eyebrows and eyelids and burned his belly when his shirt caught fire Saturday after he ignited a fuel tank with a blow torch, a fire official said.

The employee, whose name was unavailable, refused medical treatment, Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Ronnie Jeter said.

The man was working on a junker when the torch ignited gasoline in the tank and a flame shot out, Jeter said.

Four junkers and a company vehicle were damaged in the 11:50 a.m. fire at the salvage yard off Md. 64, according to Jeter and company employees.

Jeter said firefighters were lucky because the flames were about 20 feet from oxygen and propane tanks. The propane tank was venting gas, as is normal, so firefighters tried to keep the fire from getting too close to the tank, he said.

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Since the fire was behind the main building and about 2,000 feet from a hydrant on Md. 64, three tanker trucks responded to supply water, Jeter said.

Approximately 30 to 35 firefighters responded and the fire was out within 30 minutes, he said.

Jeter described the fire as "stubborn" because it included burning tires and oil.

Leitersburg Volunteer Fire Co. Inc. and Smithsburg Emergency Medical Services Inc. also responded, Jeter said.

- Julie E. Greene

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