Skip to comments.Cleaning Chemicals Cause Car Explosion
Posted on 03/07/2009 3:12:13 PM PST by An Old Man
Memphis Woman Suffered First, Second Degree Burns
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A Memphis woman is recovering after her car exploded Thursday afternoon. It started as a bomb scare, but police said it was actually a freak accident involving cleaning solvents.
Around noon Thursday, a champagne colored Nissan Maxima exploded and put a quick halt to the workday for surrounding businesses.
"We were just sitting in our office and our building just shook, sounded like something exploded or somebody hit our building," said one witness.
Police said Monica Pruitt, a self employed cleaning lady, had just gotten in her car to leave when it exploded.
"She got in the car. It appears the car wouldn't start," said Memphis police director Larry Godwin. "She sat there for awhile and decided to smoke a cigarette. When she lit the lighter we got what I would call, don't want to use the word detonation, would say more of a flash."
The Memphis bomb squad along with the ATF and several other agencies responded and treated it like a detonation. But they quickly determined it was a freak accident brought on by a chemical reaction.
"It gives all resemblance as a detonation type explosive device, but the good thing is we are very confident there was no explosive device," Godwin said. "We have not located one."
What police did find were several cleaning supplies in Pruitt's car.
"I don't know the technical name for it but a bubble gum remover, it was on the floor board," Godwin said. "She had other chemicals and cleaning agents in the back. The fumes were in the car. She is saying there were fumes in the car. She didn't think a lot about them."
Until the combination of the fumes and her lighter caused the explosive reaction that sent her to the hospital.
"She has first and second degree burns on her arm, neck and face," said Godwin.
But witnesses said after seeing her car, they're amazed it wasn't worse.
"She's lucky to be alive," a witness said.
Send it to Myth Busters they’ll love this one.
So, is the car clean now?
My mother always told me smoking is dangerous.
I hope she makes a speedy recovery.
And of course, before she lit up there was no overpowering smell of vapors sufficient to explode. Right. Maybe Darwin Nominee?
Gum removers use some highly volatile dry solvents. They will most definitely go boom if confined and ignited.
Hmmm... a “terrorist car bomb” that can get past the dog sniffers... :-)
People who smoke have limited sense of smell. And if you work around the stuff all the time, like I used to, you more or less stop noticing the odor after a while.
OTOH, I never blew up my car. (Although I did set a truck on fire one time. A whole other story.)
That’s what I was thinking
On the Video available at the link, it would appear that her sedan is now something like a semi convertible.
The technical name? “Goo Gone”
On the video they reported she's already out of the hospital. It's amazing she wasn't hurt much more seriously.
Speaking of car explosions, here’s a commercial from a couple of years ago that touts the structural integrity of the VW Polo:
WHat an education - now the lady knows about lel and uel.
And you thought bleach was bad ppppffffftttttt - it ain’t a thing to bubble gum remover
Not to make light of her situation, but she might not have to pluck her eyebrows anytime soon, if nothing else.
You have to find something good even in something so bad.
She found out about the LEL the hard way.
“Send it to Myth Busters theyll love this one.”
Actually, this one is plausible. It sounds as if she had a product called GOOF OFF (bubble gum remover) in her car. If it leaked and evaporated, which it does very quickly, it would likely have ignited when she lit her cigarette. In a closed car it would do a mini version of a house exploding when there is a gas leak.
I read somewhere the main ingredient in GooGone is lighter fluid. Don’t know if it’s true.
“I read somewhere the main ingredient in GooGone is lighter fluid. Dont know if its true.”
Sure smells like it.
Pros ALWAYS read the MSDS and pay attention to VOC and LEL/UEL components.
Or pay the price...
“Goof Off” and “Goo Gone” are two totally different animals, though I suppose you could use either one to get gum off, depending on the solvent sensitivity of the surface the gum was stuck on. Goof Off is a mixture of Xylene and toluene (don’t pay $20 a gallon for Goof Off, just buy “Xylol” for $8), I think, and the vapors would most certainly be flammable/explosive, while Goo Gone is based on orange oil, and not all that volatile. I doubt the fumes would explode.
Xylol is mean stuff. do not inhale that or get it on your skin
I don’t think it’s that bad. I used to get some galvanized metal parts where the manufacturer insisted on sticking adhesive paper labels that had to be removed, leaving an unsightly mess in order to use the parts. I’d pour about 1/8” of Goof Off or Xylene in a glass baking dish and soak the parts label down for like 30 minutes. Most of the adhesive would dissolve and you could just lift the parts out the label would fall off in the solvent and you could dry the parts off.
See-you can’t trust them “green” cleaning solutions.
I saw a guy pour some down a guys pants pocket as a joke.
It took the skin right off his nards
Must be a wuss. I’ve had it on my hands probably a hundred times, from a rag dampened with the stuff, either drying off parts that had been soaking in it or wiping down something, and never had any skin irritation. I’m sure it’s carcinogenic for large amounts of accumulated exposure, so if you do it all the time, you should probably wear a respirator and gloves, and always wash your hands immediately when done, even for occasional use.
Darn! I was planning on doing that later, too!