Mountain Leader gas canister explosion

Mountain Leader gas explosion

Gas canister explosion on a recent Mountain Leader assessment course.

This Mountain Leader gas explosion happened on a very still day.  The stove had been used about 10 mins before the explosion, was turned off and still had the stove screwed into the canister.

We believe the stove was turned off properly but may have been not quite tight enough.

It seems that because it was a very still day and the lack of wind (which is not normally an issue in the Lake District) the gas that was slightly leaking from the canister did not disperse.  Gas is heavy and sinks to the ground and runs downhill.

When Andy the assessor lit up his stove outside his tent about 10 meters away from the other stove it almost instantly caused the other canister to ignite and explode about 10 meters into the air.

It caused a small shock wave and also sent the pan, stove and canister into the air.  The group collected all the bits and thankfully no one was hurt.

I have had a candidate on a previous training that had at an earlier time prior to the training course had a canister explode in his face which did cause him severe injuries.

He said that on that occasion it was again a very still day and he was also outside and a reasonable distance from another stove.  In this case, as he was screwing the stove onto the canister it let out some gas,  he unscrewed it to see if there was any dirt or if he had cross-threaded it but all looked OK, so he tried again screwing the stove and canister together, again some gas came out and at this point, the canister ignited and blow up burning his face…

Some thoughts on lessons learned

I guess we must not assume that gas canisters are foolproof and that on very still days a very small amount of gas can stay around the area.  Perhaps we should think about storing canisters detached from the stoves and if in any doubt move them away from camp for storage.

Cheers Stuart