A car exploded at a Rhode Island gas station. Here’s why.

The incident happened around 2:08 p.m. Tuesday.

Just before a man went to pump gas at a station in Rhode Island, he used the car’s key fob to pop the trunk.

Then, the entire vehicle exploded, scattering debris of car parts far enough that they went out toward the nearby highway, according to Albion Fire Chief Richard Andrews.

The driver, meanwhile, only suffered minor injuries, the chief said. And he was the only person injured during the Tuesday incident.

“He’s a very lucky man,” Andrews said.

Albion firefighters responded to the gas station in Lincoln off Route 116 around 2:08 p.m. A police officer had doused flames beneath what was left of the vehicle with a fire extinguisher.

“He knocked down most of it,” Andrews said. “He just happened to be out on the highway on detail.”


The vehicle, which was a hybrid, was owned by a Lincoln plumbing company, according to the chief. There were two acetylene tanks in the trunk; acetylene is typically used for welding. One was leaking, and authorities believe opening the trunk triggered the blast. The motorist didn’t actually pump gas.

“The field of debris was pretty large, probably about 100 feet in diameter,” Andrews said.

The driver was taken to a nearby hospital.

“He’s very lucky,” Andrews said. “He was walking around.”

Andrews said he hasn’t seen an incident like this in awhile, and typically he’s seen similar incidents in buildings where chemicals are stored, not in vehicles.


The Office of the State Fire Marshal is investigating, the chief said.

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