Can of propane explodes in pickup truck, setting off ammunition in Brewer

A portable propane tank exploded in the back of a truck at 125 Day Road in Brewer on Wednesday morning, causing major damage to the vehicle.
Brian Feulner | BDN
A portable propane tank exploded in the back of a truck at 125 Day Road in Brewer on Wednesday morning, causing major damage to the vehicle.
By Dawn Gagnon and Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff
Posted Feb. 13, 2013, at 9:54 a.m.

BREWER, Maine — An electrical fire in a pickup truck set off an explosive chain of events Wednesday morning at a residence used for storage by the operators of Carmel Oil Co., according to police.

The fire in the Ford 350 work truck, which was parked in the yard at 125 Day Road, caused a small propane tank inside the vehicle to explode and caused ammunition stored in the cab to discharge, Public Safety Director Perry Antone said after the incident was over.

No one was injured.

The truck fire was caused by an electrical problem, Brewer police Capt. Chris Martin said during a news conference after the incident. Firefighters were able to remove a 100-pound propane cylinder from the back of the burning truck without incident and later found welding and cutting torches in the truck.

“There was nothing suspicious about this fire,” Martin said. “It was contained, no one was hurt and there was no damage to any other types of property.”

John Boy Mayhew, who owns the oil company, purchased the foreclosed home, a white house that sits alone about halfway up a small hill, in November, according to city documents.

“He just called me and said, ‘Get here now,’” said a woman who lives at the house while stopped at a roadblock at the west end of Day Road. “We own an oil company and have like 50-some oil [tank] rentals.”

The ammunition discharging made for a dangerous scene for emergency responders.

“I heard it going off when Capt. Brent Melvin keyed up on the radio and he acknowledged that ammo was going off,” Martin said. “And then when I arrived on scene, I saw that the firefighters have to put themselves in harm’s way to protect life and property. Again, it’s just a reminder that these men and women out there really do a wonderful job. They take risks to make sure other people don’t get hurt.

“I think it was very tense for the first responders,” Martin said.

Local emergency crews were called to Day Road about 9:30 a.m. and the road quickly was blocked because of discharging ammunition.

The destroyed truck, which had a trailer attached, had blown-out windows and signs of fire damage.

Martin said no charges are pending in connection with the incident.

“There is nothing that’s indicative of crime or criminal activity. It genuinely appears to be some type of electrical component that started this,” Martin said.

Martin also said it’s not unusual for people to have ammunition in their vehicles.

“We’re in Maine. This state enjoys a community that hunts, fishes [and engages in] outdoor sports and target practice and it’s pretty common.”

The vehicle and the removed cylinder are the only things that appeared to be damaged.

BDN writer Nick McCrea contributed to this report.

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Byline:Nok-Noi Ricker and Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/02/13/news/bangor/emergency-crews-responding-to-reports-of-explosion-in-brewer/ printed on July 24, 2014