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Multiple propane tank explosions reported on Thanksgiving

Posted at 11:34 PM, Nov 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-29 23:37:17-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla -- Explosion after explosion! This Thanksgiving, Fox 4 reported on several firey incidents involving propane tanks. Some from other states, but at least two right here in Southwest Florida. Fox 4 looked into how to stay safe in the event of an accident.

"The boat was completely charred, no way anybody would survive unless they jumped off before it exploded," said Steve Fontana, who docks his boat at Tarpon Point Marina.

According to the Cape Coral Police Department that's exactly what did happen on Thanksgiving, when passengers on board a boat were forced to jump ship and swim for their lives. Police said the explosion was caused by a propane tank.

Fox 4 went out with a captain on the water Friday to give you an up close look at the damage left behind. When you take a look at the charred remains, it's incredible to know that the people on board made it out alive.

Judging by the damage, Steve Fontana was shocked but relieved to hear that the people on board survived.

"They are very, very lucky because there's nothing really left of the boat except the hull," said Fontana.

A boater himself, this hit home for Fontana because he says it's common to have propane on the water. "If you're barbecuing people use propane tanks like we do, the small tanks, you have to be cautious," he said.

It was one of at least two similar and dangerous incidents that happened in Southwest Florida on Thanksgiving. Several propane tanks exploded in Buckingham at Paradise Ranch, causing a trailer on the property to also explode.

Firefighters in that case were thankful they got there before flames spread to animals in a nearby barn.
While no one was hurt in either of these incidents, it's important to keep the following safety tips in mind when using propane:

  • Store propane cylinders outdoors in an upright position.
  • Never smoke, use matches or lighters while handling propane.
  • If you smell gas, put out any smoking materials and if it's safe to do so, turn off the valve... Otherwise leave and call 9-1-1.
  • And never use a propane tank that looks damaged.