Home » Maybe Don’t Light A Cigarette In A Car Carrying A Propane Tank

Maybe Don’t Light A Cigarette In A Car Carrying A Propane Tank

Hank Hill Propane
ADVERTISEMENT

A major popular hallmark of the Memorial Day weekend is grilling, and although I’m a lump charcoal guy, some people like propane, and that’s cool, too. It’s fast, convenient, and far less fiddly than charcoal, but propane isn’t exactly inert cargo when you’re transporting a tank or a few. You can probably see where I’m going with this.

Unfortunately, propane tanks can leak if not cared for, and in the closed environment of a car’s interior, a spark can yield wild results. On May 23, one Toyota 4Runner driver in Van Nuys, Calif. reportedly found out the hard way. As CBS News reports:

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Firefighters and police rushed to a supermarket parking lot in the 7200 block of Van Nuys Boulevard after receiving a call about an SUV that exploded around 10:30 p.m., police said. When first responders arrived, the man told them he had been trying to light a cigarette when the explosion happened. Investigators said he was living in the vehicle during the explosion.

Thankfully, CBS News reports that the driver escaped with minor injuries, which is astonishing when you take into account the sheer damage and destruction involved. The entire ass end of the 4Runner has been blown apart like a sardine tin with an M80 in it, and the roof is, uh, no longer on the vehicle. Now that’s some serious potency.

Screenshot 2024 05 27 At 1.21.10 pm

This isn’t the first time a leaky propane tank in a car has resulted in proper carnage. In 2023, a Dodge Charger owner lit a cigarette in their car, igniting gas escaping from a propane tank in the rear seat and resulting in a fire that reportedly spread to the nearby house and gave the owner third-degree burns, according to local news channel WSOC-TV.

ADVERTISEMENT

Now, there are a few way of avoiding or mitigating this. Firstly, by not smoking in your car, your upholstery will thank you and you’re unlikely to turn your ride into the focal point of a Michael Bay scene. Secondly, if you’re carrying a propane tank of unknown condition, maybe keep the windows open. Lighters aren’t the only things that can ignite a gas leak, especially if you drive a certifiable hooptie.

The bottom line? Just be smart when it comes to propane tanks in cars. A perfectly seared steak is a mouth-watering proposition, but it’s not worth sacrificing your vehicle for. There’s a certain joy in chowing down on some grub while admiring what’s in your garage, so have a safe and happy car and barbecue season.

(Photo credits: CBS News)

ADVERTISEMENT

Support our mission of championing car culture by becoming an Official Autopian Member.

Relatedbar

Got a hot tip? Send it to us here. Or check out the stories on our homepage.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
55 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Rick Garcia
Rick Garcia
27 days ago

Junkies doing junkie things

Peter d
Peter d
28 days ago

Propane tanks have over-pressure relief devices, which will release gas if the pressure in the tank gets too high. This pressure is increased by heating the tank, which is why you should go directly home after you fill up your tank – left in the sun on a hot day inside a car (trunk) the temperature can get high enough to cause propane to be released in your car. This is also why the tank-exchange programs usually have fewer pounds of propane in them than what the guy at the local fill-up station will do – leaves more room for the propane to heat up before any release – sitting outside in the case or on the truck is likely to be hotter than normal usage of propane. This is also why if you are not going directly home an open pickup bed is a way better way to transport a full propane tank than a car that can get really hot inside.

None of this is likely the cause of this nighttime explosion, but fun information to keep everyone safe.

Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
28 days ago

Florida Man approves.

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
28 days ago

If I remember my high school science correctly (sorry if I don’t, Mr. Erb!), for this to happen, you need tge right air to fuel mixture. So this guy might have been on cigarette number two before his 4Runner evaporated.

There was a guy near where my folks retired who tried to kill himself by lighting propane from a 20 lb tank enclosed in a van. All that happened after he lit it up was the van got severely dented from the inside when the tank rocketed around inside it.

Mark Bremer
Mark Bremer
28 days ago

Now Bobby.

Totally not a robot
Totally not a robot
28 days ago
Reply to  Mark Bremer

Got-dangit Bobby!

Dávid Tóth
Dávid Tóth
28 days ago
Reply to  Mark Bremer

That boy ain’t right, I tell ya hwat!

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
28 days ago
Reply to  Mark Bremer

Dang ol I love Hank man, but dang ol everyday dang ol propane, propane, propane…dang ol what about my day?

Toecutter
Toecutter
27 days ago
Reply to  Mark Bremer

Hey Bobby. Your mom’s going to teach sex ed.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
29 days ago

I flicked my lighter a time or two
Then I flicked it once more and up she blew
Propane, running all ‘round my brain

Andy Farrell
Andy Farrell
28 days ago
Reply to  Canopysaurus

She don’t like,
She don’t like,
She don’t like,
Propane

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
28 days ago
Reply to  Andy Farrell

If you wanna cook out
You gotta take it out
Propane.

She won’t light
She won’t light
She won’t liiiiight….
Propane

Blahblahblah123
Blahblahblah123
29 days ago

Glad no one was hurt. Now some useless trivia time about propane.
Have you ever been to an underground parking that has signs saying no propane or propane fueled vehicles allow? Do you know why? Propane is heavier than air. So even with a small propane leak the propane will go to the lowest spot in the parking lot. And it will accumulate over time. So it can become an incredibly dangerous amount of propane just waiting to explode.
This is also why you should never ever store propane tanks in a house, especially one with a basement. Same problem.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
28 days ago

All of the RVs they use on film productions in New York City have the kitchens removed and big signs on the side that say “no propane”. Otherwise, they can’t go through any of the tunnels because of the propane being heavier than air.

Blahblahblah123
Blahblahblah123
28 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Crawford

Thank you for that cool information! It totally makes sense. Otherwise some person would stupidly think they could put in a propane tank and use the kitchen!

Coelacanth
Coelacanth
28 days ago

Thank you. I learned something today.

Harvey Firebirdman
Harvey Firebirdman
28 days ago

Yeah that is one thing that concerns me about propane heated houses in the boonies and a thing they tell you when looking at or living in a propane heated house is just to get low on the floor in the lowest level to make sure you don’t smell propane. The house I am selling in VA is actually propane heated and was always a concern to me if the propane is leaking I might not notice vs my house in Indy which is natural gas. Also propane cost much more then natural gas. And shit now you reminded me I have my propane tanks in my garage and should move them to my barn.

Blahblahblah123
Blahblahblah123
28 days ago

Yeah, I can totally understand the concern! When I was younger, a propane heated house close to where I was working was leveled by a leak in the furnace. The large outdoor propane tank survived the blast or it could have been even worse. Fortunately the owners were out of town on vacation. That made me very leery of propane heated houses.

Cayde-6
Cayde-6
27 days ago

Is that price per pound or per BTU? Because natural gas is mostly methane, and therefore has fewer BTU’s per pound

John Patson
John Patson
28 days ago

Gas (petrol in the uk) also has fumes which are heavier than air. Why gas stations have to be careful where they put breather pipes and the like so that the fumes do not all build up in the ditch at the side of the road…

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
29 days ago

What kind of philistine uses propane, honestly. America, you had one job. Cooking meat. And you’re half-assing that.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
29 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Taste the meat not the heat I tell you what.

10001010
10001010
28 days ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

The best episode was when Peggy and Bobby find out about charcoal.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
28 days ago
Reply to  10001010

“Your father’s home! Quick, get rid of it!”

I’m guardedly optimistic about the series’ continuation, though it won’t be the same without LuAnn and Lucky.

10001010
10001010
28 days ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

I always get nervous anytime anything gets a reboot

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
28 days ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Rumor has it that Beavis and Butthead will be renting the house next door.

Beer-light Guidance
Beer-light Guidance
29 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

More than one use for propane. I grill and smoke with lump charcoal but I use propane to run my burners for brewing.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
28 days ago

I just use it for heating, and also the stove. Will maybe switch to electric eventually, but for now? Eh, I burn maybe 120 gallons a year, not really worth it at the moment. But the grille is charcoal, of course.

Lizardman in a human suit
Lizardman in a human suit
28 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

A Brit telling Americans how to cook meat? What’s next, them telling the French which wine to use while cooking?

Stoney got got (potentially)
Stoney got got (potentially)
28 days ago

More likely is a Brit telling the French how to shower or shave.

The blind leading the blind.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
28 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

I grill with charcoal, otherwise I might as well just cook in the house where there’s natural gas. Propane is for hot air balloons, nothing else.

Strangek
Strangek
28 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

If you don’t use clean burning lady propane, what do you use? Like, wood or something?

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
29 days ago

* Van Nuys
* Man living in car
* Questionably sane behavior
* Car in a million pieces all over the blacktop

Is David OK?

DEcarTrouble
DEcarTrouble
28 days ago

It wasn’t an i3 or a Leaf so DT is marked okay.

RC
RC
29 days ago

Now you C4 Runner

Now you don’t C4 Runner

Dodsworth
Dodsworth
29 days ago

Somewhere in Arlen, Hank Hill is weeping over the senseless death of a good propane tank.

Jalop Gold
Jalop Gold
28 days ago
Reply to  Dodsworth

I bet the tank is actually ok. I would be curious to know. The explosion happened in the car, with gas and air mixed outside the tank.

Saul Goodman
Saul Goodman
29 days ago

“Propane Propaaane, it’s time to start the flame”

Pappa P
Pappa P
28 days ago
Reply to  Saul Goodman

“Two tanks eh!”
“Randy must be going through a fuck of a lot of propane eating all them cheeseburgers!”

MrLM002
MrLM002
29 days ago

This is a slightly unique situation since the driver was living in the car.

That being said this is one of the reasons flammable gases (including gasoline fumes) in enclosed spaces that people live in and or spend a lot of time in give me the heebie jeebies.

It doesn’t take a lighter to set it off, it could just as easily be a spark from static electricity.

Also here’s yet another use case for the Ford Maverick, to keep your flammable gasses outside the passenger compartment.

A. Barth
A. Barth
29 days ago

Yeahmantellyouwhatgotthatbigdangoldpropanetankeintheremanan’justtriedtolightasmokenandjustdangmanbigol’explosionKABOOMtooktheroofrightofftheToyota, man

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
29 days ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Boomhauer, that didn’t make any sense at all. Why on earth would they be drivin a *shudder* Toy-oda?

MY LEG!
MY LEG!
28 days ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Sir, you’re going to have to speak more slowly, I cannot understand you.

Dang ol’. Toyota. Propane. Lit a cigarette. Then it. Boom!

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
29 days ago

That boy ain’t right, I’ll tell you what.
Seriously though, if he was living in the truck, he was probably using propane for heat and/or cooking. This is one of many great reasons to put real effort into solving homelessness once and for all.
Also, coal for burgers & steaks, gas for pork, chicken, and sausage.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
29 days ago

That’s a really new 4Runner to live in if so.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
29 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

Yeah, but still less than half the price of a singlewide

MrLM002
MrLM002
29 days ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

It’s LA, that was probably one of the cheaper options at their disposal.

Swing_Axle
Swing_Axle
29 days ago
Reply to  MrLM002

And likely one of the only ‘practical’ ones, as most areas now limit the length of vehicles you can streetpark, even with permits.

So while comfort-wise it may make far more sense to outright buy an old camper, leasing a newer car might be the only realistic option that doesn’t relegate you to fighting over sidestreet parking along a crack alley.

MrLM002
MrLM002
29 days ago
Reply to  Swing_Axle

Personally I’d go with a pickup with a truck camper (The ones that have little extendable legs so they can stand on their own and be used without the Truck).

Unless you’re doing all your own mechanical work (which is unlikely at best) if you have a serious issue that requires taking a vehicle with a non detachable camper setup into the shop you’re without a camper for however long it takes for them to fix your rig, and if you’re living out of said rig that means you’re homeless until your rig is fixed.

Generally I’d recommend a trailer, but as you brought up the street parking maximum length issue makes it impractical (and likely illegal).

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
29 days ago

If he was living in the truck, it’s a safe bet there was goodly supply of methane in the passenger compartment, too.

Strangek
Strangek
28 days ago

Maybe he has a side business as a tank wipe?

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
29 days ago

Well over a decade ago an RV stopped on the side of the road as flames were noticed. The propane tank was leaking and on fire. They were on the right side of a two lane road in a pull-out. The flame direction was directly to the left and was narrow and severe enough that it lit the field afire across three lanes of road. The field fire spread to the house and the house burned down. They still haven’t built a house in that location.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
29 days ago

This is why I only light cigars in propane-laden vehicles.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
29 days ago

The article I read said they were canisters of butane, which, as we all know, is a bastard gas

55
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x