A Fort Worth, Texas, man was severely burned on much of his upper torso when paint fumes that had accumulated to dangerous levels inside his apartment exploded.
The explosion happened just before 5 a.m. March 12, inside the man’s apartment, Fort Worth Firefighter Mike Drivdahl told WBAP. He added that the injured man and another person were in the apartment painting when something ignited the paint fumes that had built up inside.
The man is in serious condition and is being treated at the burn unit at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The other person who was inside the Mirador Apartment unit at the time of the blast was not injured.
The Fort Worth Fire Department quashed speculation that the explosion was caused by natural gas, such as from a leaking pipe or appliance.
“It was not related to natural gas. The apartment complex does not have gas in that building,” firefighter Drivdahl said, according to WBAP. We’re confident in saying that it is the paint fumes that ignited.”
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, some types of paint and solvents used in painting release fumes that can become flammable in high concentrations. Products that may pose the risk of fire or explosion if not handled properly include enamel paints, oil-based paints, lacquer, and varnish. The risk of fire and explosion rises if these paints are sprayed, such as paints and enamels sold in a spray can.
Acetone, mineral spirits, turpentine, kerosene, and many other paint thinners or solvents used with oil-based and enamel paints and stains also release highly flammable fumes.
To protect yourself, others, and property from fires or explosions triggered by high concentrations of paint fumes, it’s imperative to ventilate the work space with ample fresh air. Anyone exposed to paint fumes should also wear appropriate respirators to prevent the inhalation of paint fumes and fine particulates, which can cause illness, disease, and brain injury.