Lake Alma State Park, OH- A propane explosion inside a camper injured a Jackson family of five today at the Lake Alma State Park in Vinton County.
The family had an old camper with two 20-lb propane tanks back by the trailer hitch, said Randy Zeisler, a regional park manager for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The explosion knocked out a window and left a hole in the side wall of the camper, and we could see where a propane refrigerator had been converted into an electric refrigerator. The old line had a crimp in it and was leaking.
When Sonny Townsend, 31, attempted to light the propane stove for breakfast just before 8 a.m., the propane that had gathered on the floor exploded.
An 8-year-old daughter, Shelby, suffered first- and second-degree burns and was flown by helicopter with her mother, Gloria Oxier, who had minor injuries, to Nationwide Childrens Hospital. Hospital officials had not released her condition.
Mr. Townsend and his two other daughters suffered minor injuries and traveled by car to the Holzer Medical Center in Jackson.
The investigator at Alma Lake said the four family members who escaped with only minor injuries were very lucky, said Shane Carmill, spokesman for the state fire marshals office.
Officials said propane equipment should be regularly inspected, especially in older vehicles and campers that might have been modified.
You couldnt tell just from looking that someone had done a poor or incomplete modification, Zeisler said. And even the smallest crimp or hole can leak propane and be a hazard.
Other safety tips:
Any propane tank made on or before Oct. 1, 1998, must be retrofitted with an over-filling protection device or replaced with new, safer tanks.
Make sure burner heads are clean and fittings tight.
Check gas lines for leaks at connections by brushing on a mild soap solution and watching for bubbles. Never check with a lighted match.
Purchase a propane leak detector and install it close to the floor, where propane is likely to settle.
Install a carbon-monoxide detector at shoulder level inside the camper. Replace batteries at least once a year.
Install a smoke alarm in the center of the ceiling.
Place a small fire extinguisher in the galley and another in the sleeping area.