FIRE & EXPLOSION: Static Electricity Ignites Leaking Propane Tank in McDonald’s Drive-Thru, Coachella Near Indio, California


Fire and explosion of propane tank in a McDonald’s drive-thru at 83-097 Avenue 48 (near Jackson and Avenue 48) in Coachella, California (explosion just after 1:53 elapsed time).

A man transporting propane gas tank about 1:45 p.m. Saturday, April 21, 2012 pulled up to a McDonald’s drive-thru near the intersection of Avenue 48 and Jackson, when he noticed a hissing noise coming from one of two tanks that he was transporting in the back of his pickup truck. Static electricity from the simple act of getting out of the pickup truck apparently ignited propane gas leaking from the tank.

Hot weather apparently caused pressure to build up in a propane tank, which ignited and eventually exploded. The 100°F weather caused the gas pressure to build in the contained tank. Firefighters believe static electricity sparked the fire as the driver of the truck got out of the truck to fix the leak. The man suffered second-degree burns in the explosion, and was transported to JFK Memorial Hospital in Indio.

Two children inside the pickup truck escaped unharmed.

The fire was located near the border with Indio, California, and just two blocks away from the Indio Fire Department. The City of Coachella contracts with the CDF/Riverside County Fire Department to provide a full range of fire protection services to the citizens of Coachella.

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Coachella is about 130 miles northeast of San Diego, California.

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