OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – After Thursday’s house explosion, many people may be worried about their own homes’ fireplaces.
Investigators say the cause was a homemade log lighter that was left open.
Experts say log lighters for natural gas and propane look identical but it’s the pressure and size of the hole that the gas flows through that’s different.
“Propane is more volatile. Propane is more dangerous than natural gas,” Scott Jackson with Rick’s House of Fire said.
The house in the explosion was on propane.
The Oklahoma Liquified Petroleum Gas Administration says log lighters in a propane system are illegal in the state. That’s because they don’t have a safety shutoff valve. The agency says the legality isn’t common knowledge.
“A lot of these appliance stores that are selling these things, people walk in and ask for it, they’re going to give it to you, they really don’t even know they’re illegal,” Nicholas Nadeau with the Oklahoma LP Gas Administration said.
“If that is the ruling, that should be definitely addressed. That’s something that really in our industry has not been told to us, as far as those log lighters not having a safety pilot on them,” Jackson said.
Both say plumbers often make homemade log lighters because they’re cheaper, but they may not burn evenly.
“They take a piece of gas pipe, they take a saw and cut lines in it to create where gas can come up through that rod,” Jackson said.
In the case of the house explosion, a homemade log lighter may have been placed there before the family moved in.
“Someway, somehow, that valve was on all the way, that’s all we know,” Nadeau said.
Because most log lighters don’t have safety shutoff valves, people have to turn the key off on the gas to the fireplace itself.
If you’re worried about your fireplace and you use propane, call your propane company. They can check on your log lighter and disable it.
The LP Gas Administration says they do citations on those who make illegal log lighters, and those are sent to the Attorney General to see if there are penalties.
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