Not kerosene: Coleman camp fuel to blame for fire

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Scott Jenkins
A father and son badly burned in an explosion Friday evening weren’t using kerosene to burn wood at their Copper Leaf Lane home, as early reports indicated. They were using Coleman camp fuel, Chief Mike Zimmerman of the Bostian Heights Fire Department said Saturday.
Greg Childs, 44, of 150 Copper Leaf Lane, near Faith, remained in intensive care Saturday evening at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, Zimmerman said. He suffered burns on his face, hands, legs and back.
His 17-year-old son, Luke, also had burns on his face, but his mother, Heather Childs, said Luke’s burns weren’t as serious. She compared his injuries to a sunburn. Zimmerman said Luke was taken to Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast, then transferred to Baptist, where he was treated and released.
Bostian Heights firefighters had been working at a house fire in Granite Quarry and were leaving that incident when called about the explosion. They reached the home on Copper Leaf Lane, off Glover Road, within four minutes, Zimmerman said.
They found two empty one-gallon cans that had contained the Coleman camp fuel, Zimmerman said. Childs and his son “definitely were” using the fuel as an accelerant when burning the wood pile and it apparently blew up in their faces, he said.
With summer starting and camping season getting in full swing, more people will have the camp fuel, which is sold for use in lanterns, heaters and campsite cooking stoves. Zimmerman said people need to know it is not for starting fires and it’s dangerous to use it for that purpose. “This stuff is very volatile and explosive,” he said.
According to the Coleman Web site, the camp fuel is also known as “white gas” and will form an ignitable vapor even in subzero temperatures.
Neighbors described hearing a loud boom when the substance exploded Friday evening. Zimmerman said he’d heard reports that people living a half mile away heard the explosion.