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Four injured in grill explosion at Fayetteville stadium

Posted May 24, 2012
Updated May 25, 2012

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— Four people were injured Thursday morning when a gas grill exploded at J.P. Riddle Stadium in Fayetteville, authorities said.

Authorities said employees were unaware there was a leak in a propane line inside the stadium. When they tried to light a commercial-size grill at about 9:50 a.m., it ignited the gas fumes.

"We heard a large boom. It sounded like a bomb went off, and everybody started running to the office," a caller told a 911 dispatcher while reporting the explosion.

"(It happened) so quickly. It was just crazy. It was like something you see in the movies, but you don't really understand it," said Eric Davidson, whose son was among the injured.

Jonathan Davidson, a recent Campbell University graduate, is working as a summer intern for the Fayetteville SwampDogs baseball team, which plays its games at Riddle Stadium, his father said.

"He was just there to deliver a message from the propane guy. How ironic," Eric Davidson said, noting his son and another intern were walking into the concession area to pass along the message when the grill exploded.

"They opened the door, walked into the doorway and all he saw was just a big ball of flame," Eric Davidson said.

Jonathan Davidson suffered second-degree burns on his legs, and he and SwampDogs manager Darrell Handelsman and team employee Mark Wilderman were sent to the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill for treatment. The fourth worker, whose name wasn't released, was treated at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville and released.

Explosion at J.P. Riddle Stadium in Fayetteville Father: Stadium worker saw 'ball of flame' after explosion

"The gentleman that had lit the grill was in quite a bit of pain," Eric Davidson said.

The Fayetteville Fire/Emergency Management Department shut off gas lines to the stadium, at 2823 Legion Road, and firefighters spent several hours clearing gas fumes from the area.

The State Bureau of Investigation is assisting local authorities in investigating the explosion, but Fayetteville officials said the gas leak doesn't appear to be a case of foul play.

Stadium officials declined to comment Thursday, so it's unclear if the message Jonathan Davidson was relaying had anything to do with the gas leak.

Damage to the stadium was minimal, authorities said.

"We just appreciate folks' prayers," Eric Davidson said as he choked back tears. "It's one of those calls you don't want to, that you don't want to get as a parent, but they're OK."

22 Comments

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  • Steve Mchugelarge May 29, 2012

    I have a great idea, why don't we spend Memorial Day week honoring the three time vet and honor his service instead of criticizing him.

    hayjd9598

    I concur! I served with him in Germany and was his driver, great NCO!

  • hayjd9598 May 29, 2012

    I have a great idea, why don't we spend Memorial Day week honoring the three time vet and honor his service instead of criticizing him.

  • braves32girl May 24, 2012

    I am a swampdogs fan from way back go my thoughts and prayers are with everyone. hope you all recover.

  • fkhaywood May 24, 2012

    Propane gas is heavier than Natural gas, which means it will sink to the lowest point and accumulate, unlike natural gas which is lighter than air and rise to dissapate. A small amount of 'skunk oil' is injected into gas to give it a smell so that we can detect it. Natural gas & propane are odorless in their natural state. The people must have all had very bad colds to have not smelled something!

  • Nunya123 May 24, 2012

    piene2 - you realize that none of your steps beyond the first come into play when there is a leak. Step one, light match....BOOOOMM.

  • shortcake53 May 24, 2012

    My heart goes out to all who were injured. Praying for full recoverys for all.

  • Red Green May 24, 2012

    "In all seriousness, is it possible to fit gas grills with a gas leak monitor which will warn of a potential danger to safeguard against accidents like this?"

    "Of course it's possible. But i doubt that would be cheap." - awr117

    A spray bottle with a water and liquid soap mix will do the trick inexpensively.

  • awr117 May 24, 2012

    "In all seriousness, is it possible to fit gas grills with a gas leak monitor which will warn of a potential danger to safeguard against accidents like this?"

    Of course it's possible. But i doubt that would be cheap.

  • jmf1073 3.0 May 24, 2012

    In all seriousness, is it possible to fit gas grills with a gas leak monitor which will warn of a potential danger to safeguard against accidents like this?

  • Steve Mchugelarge May 24, 2012

    colleenjanel

    Thanks for your kind words. I didn't take any offense to all the jokes and whatnot. People react differently to stories like this. I can understand that.

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