Four petroleum fires and explosions were reported and investigated during 2014. The accident causes were related to lack of product knowledge by consumers and illegal by LPGas traders without licences and knowledge of LPGas standards.
2.0 LPG Fire Explosions
2.1 Nkulumane Household Fire Accident, Bulawayo.
2.1.1 Description: An LPG cooker top cylinder exploded during cooking resulting in a fire that burnt down the kitchen and sitting room of a seven roomed house in Nkulumane.
2.1.2 Cause: The accident was caused by use of a defective cooker top cylinder which was overdue revalidation.
2.1.3 Injuries: The housewife was burnt on the arms trying to recover property from the burning house.
2.1.4 Damages: All household property in kitchen and sitting room destroyed. The roof and walls of the two rooms were brought down.
2.1.5 Observation: The retailer who filled the gas cylinder was not licensed. He could not be positively located since no receipts were used for gas purchases. If the retailer was licensed he would have stopped continued use of the cylinder as required by LPGas Standard ZWS 960 Part 3 of 2012.
Figure 1 The house owner making indications on site
Figure 2 House owner showing burn injuries on arms
2.2 Makoni Shopping Centre LPG Filling Shed Explosion, Chitungwiza.
2.2.1 Description: An explosion occurred when an unlicensed LPG retailer was filling a customer cylinder while a welder was carrying out fabrication works adjacent to the filling area.
2.2.2 Cause: A spark from the welding electrode ignited vapours from the LPG filling area resulting in the explosion of 2 fully charged 48kg LPG cylinders in the filling area.
2.2.3 Injuries: Facial and upper body injuries to the filler and 4 customers.
2.2.4 Damages: There was extensive damage to neighbouring hardware shops. The retailer was prosecuted for operating without a licence.
2.2.5 Observations: Retailer was unlicensed and was ignorant of product knowledge since he continued filling gas when there were hot works in the vicinity.
Figure 3 Curious residents at accident site
Figure 4 On looker watches damaged filling shop
3.0 Petrol Fire Accidents
3.1 Bulawayo CBD
3.1.1 Description: Fire broke out in May at an unlicensed service station in Bulawayo during a petrol delivery.
3.1.2 Cause: Ignition possibly caused by non-flame proof electric motor used to drive a discharge pump from plastic containers into underground tanks.
3.1.3 Injuries: Nil
3.1.4 Damages: Fuel delivery vehicle and parked vehicles on the premises.
3.1.5 Observations: Retailer was operating without a license. He was prosecuted and the site was closed until retailer obtained a license after 6 weeks.
Figure 5 Service station fire in Bulawayo CBD
3.2 Matobo Illegal Fuel Vendor
3.2.1 Description: A fire explosion occurred when a woman was decanting petrol from plastic containers in a bedroom with sleeping children at Tshipisane Village in Matobo.
3.2.2 Cause: The ignition was caused by a static discharge in the poorly ventilated bedroom cum filling area.
3.2.3 Injuries: Four children died in their sleep and their guardian was hospitalised with 90% burns.
3.2.4 Damages: Fifty litres of fuel in plastic containers and all bedroom property were damaged.
3.2.5 Observation: Althoughthe fire destroyed all the evidence and the shop owner denied any wrong doing, she was severely warned against vending petrol without a licence. Efforts are underway to investigate how small scale petroleum dealers can be permitted to handle and store petroleum products in remote areas shunned by big operators.
Figure 6 Front Side of the Burnt Store Where Petrol Was Being Sold in the Back Yard
Figure 7 Graves of the Four Children Who Were Burnt to Death in the Fire