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Weekend Explosions Prompt State Fire Marshal to Remind Residents to Regularly Check Gas Sources


TALLAHASSEE - Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher is urging residents who use gas for cooking or heating to have their equipment checked regularly, and especially since cooler weather is on the way. Gallagher's concern follows separate weekend explosions resulting from gas leaks that seriously injured a Midway woman and three campers in Mayo.

"For the safety of your family and your home, you really should take the steps now to prepare your home for the cold weather," Gallagher said. "In addition to checking gas appliances, clean your fireplace and change the batteries in your smoke detector."

A 60-year-old Midway woman was airlifted Saturday to Orlando Regional Medical Center after her water heater exploded due to a propane gas leak. She told an investigator with the Division of State Fire Marshal's Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations that just before the explosion she heard a hissing sound coming from her water heater. She said she was walking toward it when it exploded, enveloping her in a ball of fire and heat and knocking her to the floor. The fire destroyed the home. She said she lives alone and has no insurance.

Saturday evening, an explosion and flash fire caused by a leaking propane gas stove injured three people camping at Steinhatchee Springs in Mayo. All three were transported to Shands Burn Center in Gainesville.

For more seasonal fire safety tips, visit and follow the prompts for the Division of State Fire Marshal.

The Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations is a law enforcement branch of the Division of the State Fire Marshal that assists other state and local fire and law agencies in the investigation of fires of suspicious or unknown origin. Anyone with information about a suspicious fire can call the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations at (407) 897-2892, 24 hours a day. Information can also be mailed to 3659 Maguire Blvd., Suite 151, Orlando, Florida, 32803. Information can be given anonymously.