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On July 29, 2013, the skies above Tavares, FL were suddenly lit by fire as thousands of 20-pound Blue Rhino propane tanks exploded.  Eight people were injured in the conflagration with critical burns and other serious injuries.  Investigators have since been look for the cause of the overnight eruption, and have finally released their findings.  The cause of the massive explosion and the injuries; human error. (Orlando Sentinel)

Human error was originally suspected as the cause of the explosion.  “We honestly think it was probably an equipment failure with a combination of human error from one of the staff,” Tavares Fire Chief, Richard Keith, said in July, 2013 (WESH Orlando).  Those original suspicions have now been confirmed.

Workers at the Blue Rhino plant, which reopened in December, 2013, repair, refurbish, and refill propane cylinders commonly used by consumers.  According the the report, which was released earlier this month, “leaking cylinders or containers that must be drained before they can be reconditioned are supposed to be moved from the storage yard to an ‘evacuation station’ where the propane can be released into a sealed system” (Orlando Sentinel).  Inspectors with the department’s Bureau of Liquefied Gas Inspections conducted an investigation that discovered that, on the night of the blast, workers had manually emptied propane cylinders in the storage yard by opening screws on the tanks. Propane vapors were ignited when a forklift operator started up his machine.

As assumed from the beginning, there will be legal implications as a result of this incident (Wooten Kimbrough, P.A.).  Blue Rhino is currently contesting 26 workplace-safety violations and more than $70,000 in fines imposed by OSHA, as a result of this explosion (Orlando Sentinel).

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