Skip to comments.Michigan siblings killed in gasoline-soaked bonfire explosion
Posted on 08/20/2012 5:05:06 PM PDT by cripplecreek
Michigan siblings killed in gasoline-soaked bonfire explosion at high school graduation party
A celebration ended in sadness Saturday night in St. Clair Township, when recent high school graduate Savannah Blewett and her older brother died in a large bonfire explosion.
St. Clair County Sheriff Tim Donnellon said in a release that 27-year-old Christopher Blewett poured a large amount of gasoline on a two-story pile of wood in his backyard and, according to witnesses, invited his sister to light it on fire.
When she did, the gasoline exploded, scattering wood up to 100 yards and blowing out windows in the back of the house, located on the 6500 block of Gratiot Road.
The siblings were killed in the explosion, and three others were treated for undisclosed injuries at local hospitals.
A neighbor called authorities shortly after 9:30 p.m., prompting responses from sheriff's deputies, local police officers and at least three local fire departments.
Donnellon said alcohol was served at the party, but there was no indication that minors were drinking.
A man staying in a campground nearby told television station WXYZ that the explosion shook his RV and described the sound as a "sonic boom."
The Blewett family chose not to speak about their loss on camera, but well-wishers have been offering condolences on a Facebook page set up to remember Savannah and Christopher.
"You lost your lives in an accident that should never have happened," reads a message on the page. "We will all love and miss you dearly."
The weekend bonfire explosion occurred just weeks after a similar incident in West Michigan, where seven teenagers were injured after dousing a large brush pile with gasoline and setting it on fire.
I grew up doing stupid crap like this but it seems like kids today have zero concept of the physics involved in everyday life.
The stupid, it burns!
Literally, in this case.
A few years ago, a local man almost killed himself lighting a brush pile, as the vapors ignited....and the flames went into his mouth and lungs!
I think our modern lifestyle leads us to forget that some things are actually dangerous. Everything has a warning label on it...so nobody pays attention to any warning labels...and somehow we are slowly losing common sense.
The sidings were not the sharpest tools in the shed or what ever may be left of their shed.
We used to have bonfires of 8 foot logs after soaking them in 15 or 20 gallons of gas but we expected an explosion and lit them with roman candles from a considerable distance.
In this case it sounds like it was pallets which means air spaces.
I know a guy that soaked his outhouse with gasoline and lit it. Kaboom. . . I bet you can’t guess what happened + the guy was transported to the hospital for treatment. You probably guessed it. . . he had been drinking quite heavily.
Most people do not understand that gasoline vapor mixed with air is a fuel-air bomb waiting for a spark to set it off. One gallon of gasoline (vaporized and mixed with the correct amount of air) has the explosive force of about 70 lbs of TNT.
Play with it incompetently, and it can ruin your whole day...
We pre computer paleo humans spent a lot more of our formative years experiencing the world and discovering how things worked.
They probably think: a burning liquid, what’s the big deal??
Without being aware of the cloud of fumes that are also involved.
Well the Blewitts, they blew it. Literally.
An explosion that throws wood a 100 yards...
What kind of dumbass puts that much gasoline on a woodpile ?
It must have been several gallons at least
Some people just don’t understand how well gasoline burns. Not just a little better than kerosene; a HELL of a lot better.
A can of gasoline is like a stick of dynamite under the right conditions.
The kaboom power comes from the vapors, not the liquid. Not all that much would be needed, in an ideal scenario. This is how bunker buster bombs work. They spray out an easily vaporizing liquid, something that is like the lighter fractions of gasoline, then light it.
God rest their souls. Having survived more stupid stunts than I can count I will not judge them.
If this was pallets that would provide lots of handy combustion/compression chambers just like an engine.
In fact, unless at its flash point, about 130 degrees F, kerosene does not burn at all. A wick is needed even to keep a flame going. Sufficiently hot kerosene would generate explosive fumes like gasoline at room temperature does.
Air spaces which would act to contain and confine the gasoline vapor, instead of the vapor dispersing into a less-harmful rising fireball.
Yup, any loosely stacked wood would provide ample space for an explosive gas-air mixture to form.
Nothing like a FAE (Fuel Air Explosive) Bomb to loosen up the neighborhood. Bet it took care of the gophers in the backyard!
Despite regular warnings from fire departments about the dangers of using gasoline as an accelerant, people choose to ignore the dangers and continue to do so...
Gasoline is an extremely energy-dense flammable liquid motor fuel...It has no other real purpose...Yes it can and has been used as a solvent, and as an accelerant for recreational fires, but doing so often comes with tragic outcome...
Gasoline poured in the open air evaporates and mixes with air rapidly...It is this volatility that makes it such a good motor fuel...A vapor cloud is formed...If lighting conditions are right, the shadow of the vapor cloud can be seen...
Somewhere within this cloud the fuel/air mix is within the flammable range, neither too rich nor too lean to burn, and if an ignition source is introduced, combustion is explosive...One gallon of regular gasoline has the explosive energy of 85 pounds of dynamite!
And if the person introducing the ignition source is standing within the vapor cloud when it ignites, he is toast...Literally...
It was once common for fire departments to use gasoline to ignite training burns...Too many firefighters were horribly burned or killed before the practice was curtailed for obvious reasons...It is an extremely unsafe practice...
Seems crazy things like this have to occur on a periodic basis so people learn a lesson...A wise man observes and learns from the mistakes of others...Some folks, sadly, will never learn...
Technically you're right. But as others have pointed out in various ways, todays youth has no experience with dangerous material.
You and I would never even consider for a second doing what these kids did. With zero experience to guide them, they didn't have reason to give it a second thought.
Stories like this confirm my decision to move from our beautiful house in a nice subdivision to the country. I thought a hobby farm with a big garden/orchard would be a great environment to raise my children. With an uncertain future in mind, we wanted them to learn how to fend for themselves.
I am very sad for these parents, but I am not surprised by tragedies like this. We have raised an entire generation that thinks children riding in the bed of a pickup constitutes child abuse. Sigh.
Don't tell the EPA but it's my favorite yellow jacket nest killer.
A quart or less to soak it up--after the vapor dissipate the skunks come in and do the rest.
I use paint thinner to light my bonfires. I don’t use that much, but you still get the swoosh -boom effect when you light it. Even with a small amount, I know to light and get away quickly. We got a nutjob living next door who stole one of my unopened gallon containers of paint thinner. She lit a bonfire in her backyard then threw the whole gallon container in the fire. Quite an explosion. It’s a wonder the whole neighborhood didn’t go up in flames as buildings here are pretty close together.
I've done stupid things as a kid, but these were more or less adults. One of the things I did as a kid was to put cartridges into holes in boards, place the boards over a fire in a barrel, and watch the bullets pop. That's just one thing. Lucky I survived childhood.
Well, they didn’t follow the first rule of bonfire safety: light the bonfire first, THEN pour on the gasoline.
Nahh This is a FIRE!
When I was a kid, an exterminator killed the wasp nest on our house with gasoline... except he did it by clipping the nest off, taking it out to the street, dousing it, and burning it. I don’t know if that was quite legal even back then, but I’m sure they can’t get away with it anymore.
Heh...the joys of living in a remote undisclosed location!
Has anyone considered how ironic their name is Blewett?
It is similar to other events as such as bobbit having something cut off....
One more reason for Obama to ban gasoline. Not only does it run those damn polluting cars, it kills children.
Gasoline is what we’re using to kill wasp nests up in the top
tiers hanging tobacco.You hand the jar to the next man higher
up and hope his aim is good....got a good crew this year
Heck,gas isn’t any good to start a fire anyway
Youth is wasted on the young
As Thomas Sowell noted
When I saw signs in Yellowstone National Park warning visitors not to get too close to a buffalo, I realized that this was a warning that no illiterate farmer of a bygone century would have needed. No one would have had to tell him not to mess with a huge animal that literally weighs a ton, and can charge at you at 30 miles an hour.
We need to ban fire.
At today's prices? A dumbass with more dollars than sense!
Best fire starter is corn oil and sawdust. Mix it right, put a small pile (baseball) in the middle, make a trail to the outside of the pile. Stack wood / trash around and over the top of the starter pile. Light and watch from a safe distance.
Another good one is wax and saw dust. You melt the wax and mix in the saw dust.
I think the problem here is that it was two stories high, I’m guessing that’s what, 25-30 feet?. They created one huge cavity that just kept who knows how many cubic feet of vapor trapped inside. We built bonfires with soaked wood too, but all we got were some big wooshes. Not once did our bonfire ever blow up and scatter over 100 square yards. That’s a helluva big boom.
Try magnesium and wax. Now that’s fun. Just don’t say you heard it from me.
Agreed. The problem with gasoline is that it burns out before the wood catches. Kerosene or parrafin is better because it burns long enough to dry out the fuel.
The firestarter sticks they sell at Wal-Mart and Canadian tire are wax & sawdust. If the wood is really damp, magnesium flakes do the trick.
Build a man a fire and he’s warm for the night. Set a man on fire and he’s warm for the rest of his life.
poor kids...I hope it was instantaneous & without suffering.
Prayers for the family.
What a terrible shock - many sad days ahead