In St. Augustine, Florida, a 5th Wheel BP station went up in flames on State Road 16 on Friday, August 19, 2011 forcing residents within a half-mile radius to evacuate their homes for over an hour. The fire also sent at least one man to the hospital with severe third-degree burns. Along with the Florida Highway Patrol, County Fire Rescue, City of St. Augustine and Jacksonville firefighters all were on the scene trying to put out the 100-foot tall flames. Investigators will investigate this industrial fire incident to determine what started the fire, but eye witnesses claim they saw propane and fuel tanks exploding as they drove by the gas station. “We just felt this boom and thought someone had hit us,” said Meranda Walls. “When we looked over one of the propane tanks was on fire.”
The fire, which began around the time rush-hour traffic was beginning, forced local authorities to shut down both lanes on State Road 16 until 6:30 that afternoon. It was at this time that witnesses noticed an employee of the gas station trying to franticly reach safety. “There was a man trying to get away, tripping and stumbling, then he was on the ground on his side,” Walls said. “We were going to stop and help, but he was heavy-set and we knew we couldn’t lift him,” said Catrina Magruder, who was stopped right outside of the gas station. Luckily for the injured employee, a man in a minivan hurried over to the employee and along with a couple of St. John’s County deputies, carried him to safety. The employee, whose name has not been released, was lifted to Shands-Gainesville shortly afterwards.
For more on this story, see Explosion at 5th Wheel.