Local News

Propane Explosion Burns Two in Raleigh

Posted May 22, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— A propane tank exploded the garage of a Raleigh home sending a father and his son to the UNC Burn Center.

Raleigh Police said that 16-year-old Chris White and his father 37-year-old Lindbergh White were working in the garage when the fire began.

"I saw two men running from the garage, and they were both on fire," witness Meredith Curley said. "Both of them went down on the ground to roll to get the fire extinguished."

Investigators said that a bullet in the propane tank sparked a devastating fire. The father and son were loading hunting rifles into a new safe in the garage, when one weapon accidentally fired.

"Apparently one was loaded at the time, and discharged into a propane tank, as is used in a propane gas grill," Raleigh Police Capt. Mike Murray said. "That ignited a fire which quickly became very intense."

Neighbors and paramedics rushed to help the two victims.

"Son, got up and went back to the garage. He was still on fire and had to do it [roll] again," witness Spider Curley said. "So apparently they were severely burned."

Other neighbors grabbed hoses and fire extinguishers trying to douse the flames while waiting on emergency crews to arrive.

Moments later, the group had to back off because the ammunition in the garage started exploding.

"The father had yelled out that those were rounds going off," neighbor George Ziperski said. "We pulled off the hoses because we were afraid there might be a round that jumped through the window that we were pouring water in."

Family members locked up the rest of the house, and went to the Burn Center with the two victims.