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G as fire article

Gas in basement for Y2K faulted in blaze

By James H. Burnett III of the Journal Sentinel staff

Last Updated: Dec. 25, 1999

Cans of gasoline stored in a north side house by a man concerned over possible Y2K shortages apparently ignited Saturday morning, causing $70,000 in damage to the building and $50,000 in damage to its contents.

Ying Vang, 22, who lived in the two-family home in the 2200 block of N. 24th Place, admitted to investigators that while he wasn't certain how the blaze started, he had been storing cans of gasoline in his basement for fear of fuel shortages after Jan. 1.

Five people on the first story of the building escaped without injury, along with several people on the second floor, 1st Battalion Fire Chief Don Preston said Saturday afternoon.

Vang was treated at St. Mary's Burn Center Saturday evening for minor burns.

"You hear about people preparing for Y2K with different measures, but this is the first time I've actually seen damage caused by that," Preston said. "People need to be aware that by city ordinance, it's illegal to store flammable liquids inside a house, because often some vapor escapes from the containers. And in a basement that vapor could be ignited" by pilot lights.

Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Dec.

-- (gas@goes.boom), December 26, 1999


Please be careful out there, friends. Fuels demand appropriate storage. Exercise caution and vigilence with all fuels and fires now. Even with simple candles. Within two hours of the start of a power outage here last winter, a family's house burned because a candle tipped over. Have fire extinguishing capabilities in every room where you plan to use open flame, and always use it only under attentive adult supervision. Be sure your family has an escape plan and that you know exactly where your bug out bags are. Not to late to assemble one. See the prep forum for advise on what to pack and on how to store fuels safely. God bless.

-- Faith Weaver (, December 26, 1999.

In newer construction, where all drainage is to sump (not sewage system, like days of old), careful not to let fumes seep into pipes (drains) which ultimately lead to basement. Notable candidates include drains in window-wells and basement steps.

-- Anonymous999 (, December 26, 1999.

This brings up an important point. Kerosene is considered COMBUSTIBLE and not FLAMMABLE, or so everything I have read to date has shown.

Knowing this is it then safe (or safer) to keep kero indoors, at least for short periods of time?

Anyone here have U.S. fire department knowledge/training about this ?

-- hamster (, December 26, 1999.

"Against stupidity, the Gods themselves contend in vain"

-- art (, December 26, 1999.

Hamster, gasoline and kerosene are both flammable liquids, and both will burn with the same intensity. Kero has a lower rate of flame spread, which is unimportant. The big difference is flash point. Gasoline is low flash point, which means it emits flammable vapors at room temperature, and will continue to do so down to 40 below zero. Kero must be heated to about 125 degrees before it will give off flammable vapors, but once ignited,will burn as hot as gasoline. These liquids do not burn. It is their vapors which burn. Gasoline vapors are heavy, have a tendency to hug the ground, and can be ignited by a gas hot water heater. Gasoline storage should be well vented. Gasoline should not be stored in basements. Gasoline vapors must be ignited by a spark or open flame.

-- Earl (, December 26, 1999.

It's called Darwinism. The democrats have been fighting it for years, but it's a lost cause. A certain percentage of humans are just plain stupid, and there's nothing you can do about it.

-- (, December 26, 1999.

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