Trailer carrying hot air balloon basket explodes

Trailer carrying hot air balloon basket explodes

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PHOENIX -

A trailer carrying propane tanks caught on fire in north Phoenix Wednesday morning. The trailer was left a burned-out shell.

It happened at an AM PM gas station near 19th Ave and Rose Garden. The fire erupted and turned the trailer into a fireball in a manner of seconds.

The fire department says the flames reached a 2,000 gallon propane tank, and had it exploded, it would've been catastrophic and caused mass property damage.

"Heard the first explosion, just rattled the windows," says Bob Smith, who works across the street. "Within two minutes a second explosion rattled the windows and flames went up 50 feet."

Amateur video shows black smoke coming from a trailer after four 7 ½-gallon propane tanks exploded inside. The fire department says a hot air balloon pilot was filling up the tanks when something caught fire, causing them to explode inside the trailer.

"I'm telling you it was a noise I've never heard in my life, it was very scary," says Linda Bender, floor manager of Q-Bar, next door to the gas station.

"It definitely shook the building. It shook the building and like I said, in two seconds we were out that door."

The trailer was parked next to the 2,000-gallon propane tank it was refueling from. While there were flames touching the tank, it did not explode.

Firefighters don't know the cause of the fire, but Kevin Flanagan, a friend of the balloon pilot, says he just bought the trailer off Craigslist a few days ago.

"Had to be faulty wiring in the trailer, ignited the fire," says Flanagan.

Gas station workers were able to get the emergency valve shut off quickly and fire crews were on the scene in a matter of minutes to put out the flames.

The pilot suffered minor burns on his arms, but has been released from the hospital.

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