Butane explosion causes fire

(The Freeman) - August 11, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - A truck, a multicab, and two motorcycles were destroyed after butane canisters that the truck was carrying exploded following a collision with a school service vehicle at the South Coastal Road in San Isidro, Talisay City yesterday morning.

The resulting conflagration also damaged four other vehicles and a motorcycle.

PO3 Aquiles Cabando of Talisay City Traffic Division identified the driver of the Kia Vonggo truck (license plates ANA 3278), as Edmar Luad, 21, and that of the school service vehicle (YJF 983) as Ricky Geraldez, 53.

Cabando said the truck came from Cebu City, while the school service vehicle came from the south and was turning left towards Tabunok.

Geraldez said he had three students as passengers when the accident happened but they were unharmed and were brought to school by another service vehicle.

Investigation reveals that after the collision, Luad lose control of the truck, which traveled 50 meters before stopping in front of Dan Ryan Auto Shop.

Butane canisters then started falling from the truck, followed by a spark and an explosion as the canisters caught fire. Fortunately, Luad and two others in the truck managed to leave the vehicle before it was engulfed in flames.

Senior Fire Officer 2 Rudolfo Luague said that aside from the truck, the fire also destroyed a Suzuki Multicab, a big bike, and a scooter displayed at the shop.

He said a Honda car, a Mitsubishi Gallant car, a Mercedes Benz car, a Toyota Crown car, and one XI 200 Honda motorcycle were also damaged.

Luague estimated the incident to have left P385, 000 in damage.

Reacting to the incident, Department of Energy-7 Director Antonio Labios once again reminded the public not patronize Liquified Petroleum Gas-filled butane canisters, which is illegal.

"Di gyud maayo nga mo-patronize ang public ani nga produkto kay illegal kini," he said.

Labios also asked local government units to cooperate and report to them businesses engaged in refilling butane canisters with LPG.    

He said those caught would be imprisoned and imposed a fine of P50,000. He reiterated that his office has not and would not issue any permit to those refilling butane canisters with LPG.

"Gi- deny na namo nga ni-issue daw mi og permit. Some people are using my name and the name of the DOE secretary nga kunohay gitugotan ni namo," Labios said.

It was not yet established, however, if the 6,000 canisters that the truck was carrying were new or were refilled with LPG.

Luague said somebody came to their office and claimed that the butane canisters, which were bound for Carcar City, were aboveboard.

"Naa may representative diri sa kanang butane ang nianhi ug niingon nga naa silay permit," he said.

He, however, said the person did not provide them their names.

Those who saw the explosion, which also damaged the concrete road, said it sounded like there was a war.

"Nagtuo gyud mi nga adunay naggubat tungod kay kusog man kaayo ang buto-buto. Pero pagkita namo ang mga sakyanan man diay ang nangasunog," one witness said.

Butane canisters refilled with LPG are unsafe as they are not compliant with standards set for LPG containers.

"The DOE is vigorously campaigning for the public not to patronize this unsafe product and is implementing compliance monitoring on reported refilling plants, with the assistance of the BFP (Bureau of Fire Protection), PNP (Philippine National Police) and the LGUs," said Engr. Rey Maleza, DOE-7 Energy Industry Management Division supervisor.

Cebu City Councilor David Tumulak, chairman of the City Council committee on peace and order, said he would file again a proposed ordinance, which that was not approved in the previous Sanggunian, to ban butane refilling stations and to regulate the transport of butane in the city.

"Ang mga prohibitions sa pag-maintain aning butane canisters were: Ang tindahan nga butangan naay fire extinguisher, enclosed siya, third kay dapat naay signage nga no smoking and fourth is ang pagtransport niya is enclosed but well ventilated," he said.

Tumulak admitted that there is an existing DOE memorandum circular which provides the rules and regulations governing the LPG and butane industry.

It asked re-fillers to likewise secure the following supporting documents: business registration of business from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) or the Securities and Exchange Commission; zoning and locational clearance; barangay business clearance;building permit; Environmental Compliance Certificate from DENR; business permit; fire safety inspection certificate; permit to operate from the Department of Labor and Employment; product liability insurance certificate; plant layout; and supply contract and agreement, among others.

 "Kinahanglan na gyud hugtan sa DOE kay ang naa ra nila is ang Memorandum Circular to LPG suppliers. Managinot man ning ubang LPG suppliers og sub-suppliers maong dunay refilling stations sa mga balay-balay," Tumulak said.

He urged barangay officials to go after "backyard refilling stations" that have been proliferating in the interior portion of the barangays in the city.

Quoting a BFP report, Tumulak said that from 2010 to 2015, 44 fires were caused by LPG and/or butane.

Due to the cost-effectiveness of using butane camping stoves as a substitute to LPG cooking stoves, widespread use of butane canisters refilled with LPG has been observed. To stop this, Provincial Board Member Glen Bercede drafted an ordinance on the refilling, distribution, hauling and retailing of LPG-refilled canisters. 

The purpose of the ordinance is to ensure public safety, as a butane canister is not suited to the pressure LPG exerts on its containers.

Forcing LPG to a butane canister may cause a leak that may cause explosion and/or fire.

Based on the Philippine National Standard, only welded steel cylinders with a water capacity of a liter to 150 liters are intended to store LPG. Pure butane fuel is designed for outdoor use and can only be used only once so that refilling them is not advisable.

If Bercede's proposal is approved, all LPG bulk buyers are obliged to obtain only brand new cylinders from duly licensed cylinder manufacturers, with their brand name clearly embossed on the cylinder body. — Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon, Iris Mariani B. Algabre, Jean Marvette A. Demecillo, Mae Clydyl Avila and Brenna Rose Ibale (FREEMAN)

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