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Old 04-27-2017, 09:34 PM   #1
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Default Sprinter-based Class B fire in LA?

Pardon me if this has already been covered in another child forum (that I cannot locate), but does anyone know anything about the story on this recent Class B fire in Los Angeles?

It's obviously a T1N Sprinter, but that's all I can tell from the information I found by google-searching. The story popped up on Air Forums today and I'm curious as to the failure mode and the brand of the Class B (one of the usual manufacturers or DIY).

Man Attempts to Extinguish Dangerous RV Fire at Propane Tank Refill Station in Sun Valley | KTLA
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Old 04-27-2017, 11:25 PM   #2
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Its obviously another lithium battery explosion. Those electrons are highly flammable, should have stuck with propane, a much safer energy source.
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Old 04-30-2017, 01:08 AM   #3
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A propane fire at propane fueling is a major concern of mine. The fuel is there from the tank venting or the fuel hose venting, all it takes is an ignition source. It would be informative to learn of the ignition source. The possibilities are a spark of unknown source in the fueling area, or a furnace or refrigerator ignition at the wrong time. We would certainly like to know.
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Old 04-30-2017, 01:23 AM   #4
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...or the fridge was still running on LPG with open flame. It would be wise in the RV business to have a safety circuit turning a fridge LPG power off once a door for LPG enclosure is open in preparation for refueling. Most of RVs have some kind of enclosure for LPG tanks.

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Old 04-30-2017, 01:30 AM   #5
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In the eight years we have had our B, I can remember just once that the attendant asked if we had all the power off, which is the law, I think, and nobody ever asked about flames or other gas stuff in use.
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Old 04-30-2017, 01:03 PM   #6
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There are a few longer versions of the film on YouTube, including
^^that one. From those, it's obvious that the propane delivery hose was indeed hooked up at the time of the fire, but the fire did not appear to originate in the area of the connection. In other words the overfill venting does not appear to be the fuel source - I suspect strongly that propane was escaping at the tank itself.

Which leads to the obvious question - whose tank is it? Well, to answer that question it helps to first know which rig it is. Unfortunately the viewing angles are poor and the strong sunshine is washing out details of the rig. It *might* be a Pleasure Way, circa 2006, based on the format of the rear camera. But I wouldn't put money on that.

There are only a few manufacturers of these integrated RV tanks and to my knowledge, they all base them on the same standard specs even if they are different shops. The most common fabber seems to be Manchester (it pulls up first in google searches and in product catalogs, e.g., by PPL), and on a T1N Sprinter (as that vehicle clearly is), there's a good chance it's either a Manchester 68162 or Manchester 6813.

Why would I know this much detail? Because we had to replace our Manchester tank due to a leak that I discovered (blog post here).

Furthermore, we have a friend with the same rig as ours whose tank is currently behaving badly for unknown reasons. It seems to vent propane from the tank well before the tank reaches its fill capacity. That rig is currently scheduled to go into the shop so the failure can be determined.

We'd all like to know the cause of the incident, not just the ignition source but why was there LP present in that area, which appears to have been the tank area, to be ignited in the first place? Because clearly there shouldn't have been. What happened to this guy might be an isolated incident in which a mistake is made, or it might be a systemic risk that could effect X% of tank owners. X is obviously small or else we would see these kinds of fires more frequently. But it sure would be nice to resolve the conditions that lead to an elevated risk, if there are resolvable conditions.
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Old 04-30-2017, 02:52 PM   #7
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That's so sad to see. I'd say there was no opportunity to get any belongings out of the unit as the fire was intense from the start of the video. Hopefully the owner wasn't far from home.

My guess is that it was an '05 or '06 Roadtrek based on the stripes, bathroom vent, tv antenna and location of water heater and fridge vents.

tv antenna bathroom vent.jpg

fridge vent stripes water heater.jpg

06 adventurous.jpg

Propane leaks can & do happen but I wouldn't expect a leak to result in a fire. I'd like to know what the source of ignition was. My guess would be the fridge flame.
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Old 04-30-2017, 03:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
From those, it's obvious that the propane delivery hose was indeed hooked up at the time of the fire, but the fire did not appear to originate in the area of the connection. In other words the overfill venting does not appear to be the fuel source - I suspect strongly that propane was escaping at the tank itself.
I don't understand what you are saying. The vent on our tank is right next to the fill (is yours somewhere else?), and if it is venting, gas could easily travel to the ignition source, likely the frig, and ignite. That is the most likely thing that would happen, and the wind direction would indicate the direction of movement of the gas. The fact that the hose is still connected would say it is likely the vent is purging, as it was being filled.
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Old 04-30-2017, 03:20 PM   #9
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If it was vented propane that ignited wouldn't there just be a "woompf" and that would be the end of it? There does appear to be a continuous leak to cause so much flame.

I do have a de-rusted, repainted tank. Time to take a better look at it.
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Old 04-30-2017, 03:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hbn7hj View Post
If it was vented propane that ignited wouldn't there just be a "woompf" and that would be the end of it? There does appear to be a continuous leak to cause so much flame.

I do have a de-rusted, repainted tank. Time to take a better look at it.
Harry

One would have to guess it would blow up the regulator on the burner, opening it up to vent more gas, or it could back up to the tank where the vent may even have been blowing out liquid, which is a lot more gas.

There were and awful lot of explosions which seemed strange. You might get on from the fuel tank and when the propane tank broke or the regulator burned open, but there were more than that, and they lasted longer than tire explosions would seem to. There also seemed to be an awful lot of combustibles under the van to burn, fuel and propane would be gone faster than that, I would think.
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