Gas explosion involving a flame effect fire

Energy type: 
Natural gas
 
Event summary: 
Energy Safety was notified of a gas explosion involving a flame effect fire by the home owner. The home owner suffered lacerations to their arms, legs and chest.
 
Accident ID: 
160818-04
 
Accident date: 
17 August 2016
 
Site: 
Domestic
 
Environment: 
Building
 
Voltage: 
1
 
Equipment: 
Space heater balanced flue convection
 
Accident type: 
Fire and explosion
 
Casualty: 
Non-fatality
 
Injury: 
Mechanical
 
Property damage level: 
No property damage
 
Outcome of investigation: 

Energy Safety technical officers visited the property to examine the fire and its installation.

Energy Safety dismantled the fire and found that one of the decorative shale pieces had dislodged and fallen into the pilot assembly. This had blocked the main burners and prevented correct cross lighting. The tray that holds the shale and logs was not screwed into the frame of the fire as per the manufacturer’s specifications. This allowed the tray to sit proud of the pilot assembly and left a small gap for the shale to slip into. Energy Safety was not able to establish who was responsible for the tray not being secured into position.

It is Energy Safety's opinion that the dislodged shale caused the main burners not to light correctly and allowed gas to build up in the combustion chamber until the gas found an ignition source and ignited explosively.

The manufacturer has indicated they will be retrofitting a new pilot hood to minimise the risk of poor ignition in this model of heater.