Safety Alert: Gas canister / stove explosion

AdventureRMS has issued the following alert which expedition / camping providers might wish to take note of:

We have received a report of an incident involving the explosion of a gas canister being used during a Duke of Edinburgh Award assessment expedition.

Witnesses saw a fire engulfing the canister, which then exploded as people were moving away from the area. No one was hurt but the bottom disc of the canister was blown off and hit a tent causing a small tear.  After the explosion the gas pipe between canister and burner was broken at its connection to the burner.

It is not possible to be certain of the cause of the initial fire around the canister. However, it is clear from photographs that the fire was around the canister not at the burner. It is likely that gas had pooled around the base of the canister and then ignited when the stove was lit. The pool of gas may have occurred due to a fault in the canister or the stove assembly, or from an incorrectly attached outlet pipe.  The fire ‘cooked’ the canister causing the base to blow off resulting in a fireball as the rest of the gas ignited.

Issues raised

  • Is stove malfunction and gas fire/explosion considered in the risk assessment process?
  • Does training include checking for leaks in the gas supply once a stove is assembled and prior to lighting?
  • Do training and supervision arrangements take account of the possibility of stove/canister malfunction?
  • What are the arrangements for stove/canister maintenance and checking prior to issue/use?

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