Fire Explosions Kill 15, Injure Hundreds

March 1, 2013

585996_fire__fire.jpgFire accident and injury lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report that, due to defective Blitz plastic gas cans and one gas explosion in Kansas City, MO, hundreds of people have been seriously injured from fire burns. At least 15 people have died in the explosions.

Blitz USA was once the nation's largest manufacturer of plastic gas cans, and is now responsible for about 75% of all sales. Unfortunately, despite overwhelming adverse test results, Blitz allowed about 150 million defective plastic cans to go into circulation, and are now in consumer's homes, garages and sheds. These 150 million gas cans were made without the flame arrester component, which keeps gas fumes from leaking out of the can while the gas is being poured.

When gas fumes mix with the gasoline itself, it creates a small explosion, similar to that of a flamethrower. To date, there have been more than 75 incidents of innocent consumers being seriously and fatally burned by the cans. 14 of these incidents were deadly, and sadly, six fatalities were among children.

One of these children who fortunately survived is three-year-old who knocked over a Blitz gas can while he was putting his sister's tricycle back into the family garage. The gasoline vapors spread throughout the garage floor and were ultimately sparked by a water heater pilot light. The toddler suffered third-degree burns over half of his body.

Adults are no less subjected this danger, however. In one case, a member of a Porsche racing pit team was filling up his lawnmower when the Blitz can exploded and threw him several hundred yards through the walls of his barn. In another case, a firefighter was refueling his chainsaw when the can exploded, causing him to spend more than four months in a coma.

In 2012, Blitz USA filed for bankruptcy because it could no longer afford product liability insurance. The company is currently facing more than 40 product liability lawsuits over its dangerous product. Fire arrestors, the component that would have prevented the explosions, cost as little as 50 cents per gas can.

The accident that took place in Kansas City injured at least 15 people, and cadaver dogs uncovered the remains of one local employee. She was a waitress at JJ's restaurant, which was enjoying its daily peak happy hour at the time of the explosion. The blast is believed to be sparked by a construction crew that accidently struck a natural gas line. Missouri Gas Energy officials stated that a worker called 911 around 5 PM that day, more than an hour before the explosion, reporting that they hit the gas line near JJ's with an underground borer.

The explosion took place in a popular upscale shopping district downtown, and many witnesses report smelling gas very strongly in the hours before and after the blast. At least one person is at the University of Kansas Hospital in critical condition, and two are in serious condition. All of the injuries suffered are traumatic, including broken bones, rather than burns. Two other patients at St. Luke's Hospital are in critical condition, being treated for extensive burns and facial trauma.

The blast occurred in the peak of happy hour, when at least 15 to 45 people gather at the JJ's bar each day. The fire engulfed nearly an entire block of restaurants, apartments, offices and retail stores. Three people remain unaccounted for.

When companies knowingly manufacture flawed products, or perform acts of negligence while on a high-stakes job, such as in utility work, they must be held accountable for their actions. This is particularly true for Blitz USA, who blatantly chose to increase profits by placing consumers in harm's way.

Product liability lawyers at Pintas & Mullins hope that no one else is seriously or fatally injured in Blitz explosions. If you or someone you love was injured, however, you do have important legal rights, and should consider seeking the guidance of a skilled attorney who will fight for you to receive the maximum compensation.