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Fuel fumes cause flash fire at Salisbury gas station

SALISBURY — A tanker truck delivering fuel late Tuesday night may have inadvertently released fumes into the air that led to a flash fire.

Salisbury Fire Department crews responded about 10 p.m. to what was initially reported as an explosion at Mystik Mart, located at 1600 S. Main St. across from Checkered Flag Barbecue restaurant.

Battalion Chief David Morris said the tanker truck driver was transferring gasoline from the truck to an underground tank using a vapor recovery line. The line is used to funnel fumes that would otherwise escape back into the truck.

The tanker is operated by Kenan Advantage Group, a company based in North Canton, Ohio.

A motorist parked about 2o to 30 feet away got into his vehicle and started it.

“When he started the car, it became an ignition source and went ‘woosh.’ It sounded like a small explosion,” Morris said.

He said the power from the explosion rattled a few windows nearby.

When firefighters arrived, there was no fire.

It’s possible the tanker driver did not tighten the vapor recovery line and some fumes escaped, Morris said. Or there may have been a hole in the line or a problem with the gas station’s underground tanks, he said.

The motorist suffered minor burns to his face similar to a sunburn, Morris said. He was checked by Rowan EMS at the scene but was not taken to the hospital.

There was some damage to his vehicle

“It absolutely could’ve been worse. It could’ve ignited the car; someone could’ve been standing in the path,” Morris said.

As a precaution, fire officials had the tanker driver stop the delivery so the vapor recovery lines could be properly checked by the N.C. Department of Agriculture. An inspection was done Wednesday, and by the evening, gasoline sales had resumed at the station.

“We don’t know how the leak occurred. It could’ve been he didn’t hook it up right and didn’t get a tight seal,” Morris said. “There’s a high possibility that it was an error in making a connection.”

Fire officials notified Rowan County Emergency Management. The Salisbury Police Department provided traffic control.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.




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