Officials say propane torch, leaking gas caused UPS explosion

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- We now know more about what caused Wednesday’s explosion at a UPS facility in Lexington.

Investigators say they believe a propane torch ignited leaking gas coming from a load of gas tanks inside a UPS truck.

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Fire officials say an employee was using a propane torch in the outside bay area of the UPS facility when it came into contact with leaking gas tanks inside a nearby truck and caused the massive explosion.

Investigators were back out on the scene Thursday combing over the damage and working to safely remove all 45 gas tanks that were in the back of the truck at the time of the explosion.

“We want to bring them out in a safe manor. Since the explosion happened we need to make sure that the structural integrity of the cylinders is not compromised,” said Major Rob King with the Lexington Fire Department.



None of those 45 tanks exploded in the blast but officials say they believe gas emitting from them is what caused the explosion.

“What we think happened at this time is that acetylene was ignited that had off-gassed from these cylinders, the acetylene ignited from the ignition source of the propane torch being used in the general vicinity,” said Major King.

The blast sent 8 people to the hospital, 2 with more serious injuries.

Officials say one of those was the driver of the truck who was sitting in the cab at the time.

The second victim, officials say, is believed to be the employee who was holding the torch.

Both are in stable condition.

“He’s a very, very lucky man. Everyone in that structure is lucky,” said Major King.

Investigators say they are still out at the scene trying to determine which and how many gas tanks were leaking at the time of the explosion.

“We’re trying to pull them out. We’ll use a scientific method to pull them out individually and try to ascertain which ones may or may not have been leaking,” said Major King.

Fire officials tell me this investigation could end tomorrow or go on through the weekend.

They say it all depends on how long it takes them to test and get all of those gas tanks out of the building.