Fire Said to Be Unrelated to the Vehicle’s CNG Systems
But Vented Gas Ignited to Seriously Damage Residence
Chesapeake, Va.-based TFC Recycling is working with component manufacturers to determine the cause of a fire last week that destroyed a compressed natural gas-powered recycling collection vehicle and damaged a Chesapeake home.
The fire appears to have been caused by a leak of hydraulic fluid on the truck body, which ignited on contact with the exhaust system, says TFC Recycling VP Paul Stacharczyk, who told F&F that the vehicle had five CNG cylinders. “The tanks properly vented when they were under exposure from the heat,” he told said. The tanks’ pressure relief devices thus worked as they were designed to.
Sources agree that the gas was ignited by the fire, “almost like a blowtorch,” said a local ABC News reporter, and damaged a house. The incident took place on the morning of Thursday, July 2. There were no injuries.
TFC Suppliers to Convene Wednesday
The truck was a CNG-powered Autocar, says Capt. Scott Saunders, assistant fire marshal and spokesman for the Chesapeake Fire Department. He told F&F that the investigation is now in the hands of TFC and its insurers.
Pending meetings with component manufacturers slated for Wednesday, Stacharczyk declined to name body or fuel cylinder equipment suppliers.
“We believe it to be our system and we believe the PRDs acted the way they should,” Agility Fuel Systems CTO Ron Eickelman told F&F late Tuesday. “We’d much rather have a fire than an explosion,” he said.
‘Statistically, This Is Insignificant’
“This is the first natural gas vehicle fire ever reported in Virginia,” said Virginia Clean Cities executive director Alleyn Harned.
“Statistically,” Herned told F&F, “this is insignificant” – one of about 250,000 vehicle fires per year in the U.S. “This is a safer fuel than diesel,” he said.
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Source: Published reports with Fleets & Fuels follow-up