First Arriving Network
First Arriving Network

Update Video Added: Drive-Thru Ka-Boom in California

Luckily No Fatalities

UPDATE:  A citizen videographer caught the explosion – Scroll down

A COACHELLA, CALIFORNIA, MAN LEARNED AN EXPENSIVE LESSON on LPG tanks Saturday afternoon at 1:45 Pacific when his pickup truck blew up while waiting in a McDonald's drive-thru window line.

KESQ-TV / Jimenez

The man was driving around in 100-degree heat and the desert sun beating on two propane tanks, one 5-gal. tank and a 50-gal. tank, that he was carrying in his truck bed.  While waiting in line at the drive-thru, he heard a hissing sound coming from the tanks.  He got out of his truck and thought that the valve on the smaller tank had loosened open, so he tried to tighten it.  At that moment the leaking vapors ignitied explosively, setting the truck on fire.

As everybody in the area fled the scene and the restaurant was being evacuated, the smaller tank exploded sending debris and truck parts in all directions including the tailgate into another vehicle.  The large 50-gallon tank was propelled 75 ft. away but miraculously survived the blast and didn't fail.  Two young boys riding in the pickup cab were grabbed and carried away by passers-by before the explosion.

A CalFire spokesman explained that the excessive heat had caused the gas to expand and the pressure relief valve opened causing the sound that the driver mistook for an open valve.  When he slid out of the driver's seat he generated a static charge and as he grabbed the valve he sparked the leaking vapors.  The explosive-ignition set the truck on fire and burned the man's hands. 

UPDATE 11:30 am:
A citizen videographer caught the moment of the explosion in this video:


KESQ-TV Ch. 13 has more photos included in this video report:


The Palm Springs Desert Sun reported:

Someone at the scene took the man and his family to a local hospital before firefighters arrived …. Their lives are not in danger, according to the sheriff's department.

Indio police evacuated the restaurant while firefighters put out the fire, which was contained at 2:01 p.m.

There were no injuries among restaurant employees or customers, according to CalFire.

The fire destroyed the drive-through structure, but damage to the restaurant was minmal and they were back to flipping burgers later that afternoon.

CalFire photo

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