Extinguished pilot light blamed for explosion that injured 3 firefighters

Student firefighters and instructor were in trailer at time of blast

SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. (WWLP) – Investigators from the state fire marshal’s office have determined the cause of an explosion that injured two student firefighters and an instructor back in the fall.

The incident took place on October 4 during a training exercise at a Mobile Live Fire Training Unit trailer, which was set up in South Hadley. Jennifer Mieth, spokesperson for the state Department of Fire Services, told 22News that inside the trailer, propane gas is used to fuel fires in three different props, which student firefighters then have to put out. On that day, the firefighter and two students were going through training when some propane ignited unexpectedly, causing an explosion and a flash fire.

While the explosion pushed open the windows and one of the doors, everyone was able to get out of the trailer, and none of the firefighters were seriously injured.

Three firefighters injured in South Hadley explosion

Mieth said that it was determined that prior to the training, a pilot light had accidentally been extinguished- which caused a buildup of gas inside the trailer. When one of the props was lit, it caused the explosion and flash fire.

As a result of the fire, the fire marshal’s office is recommending some additional safety measures and new procedures, including installing a reflector plate to prevent the pilot light from being accidentally extinguished and having the manufacturer of the props (which assisted with the investigation) provide operator training courses.