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Car primer blows up in man's face

Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, August 15, 2007

YELLOWKNIFE - A man went to the hospital last week after the car he was attempting to repair sprayed burning gasoline onto his forearms.

On Thursday afternoon, the fire department responded to a call reporting a car fire in the 400 block of Northland trailer park.

According to deputy fire Chief Chucker Dewar, the fire crew determined that the individuals involved had been pouring gasoline into the carburetor.

"It was an older vehicle, and it appeared they were trying to prime the engine to get it to turn over," Dewar said.

When the vehicle turned over, it ignited the gasoline, and sprayed the flaming gas all over the man who was pouring it into the engine. Dewar said that the two-gallon container that contained the gasoline also lit on fire, which cause the plastic to melt, and a pool of burning gasoline to spread approximately two metres from the car.

By the time crew arrived, the burned man had already been taken to Stanton Hospital in a private vehicle, and another person on the scene had already put out most of the fire with a small fire extinguisher.

Fire crews doused a nearby smoking garbage can where the men had disposed of some of the burnt material, but the situation was otherwise already under control.

The fire department could not release the name of the burn victim as he was not treated by emergency personnel, and had already left the scene before the fire crews arrived.

Dewar cautioned people to be careful with flammable liquids.

"We don't recommend conducting activities like this," Dewar said, "unless it was recommended by a mechanic maybe."

Service technician and owner of AutoTec, Brian Hixenbaugh, said that the practice of priming a vehicle by pouring gasoline into the carburetor is not something even a mechanic would do, let alone recommend to a car owner.

"When you prime a vehicle like that, it can backfire and ignite the gas and send it flying out at you," said Hixenbaugh, adding "a lot of these guy in their backyards are flirting with disaster, and sometimes they get caught."

"It's like giving your kid matches, sooner or later they are going to light them up. If you don't do it, you don't have to worry about it."