How hurrying motorist ignited fire that engulfed Shell petrol station

Motorist drives off while fuel pump is still engaged on the car tank, touching off quick events that lead to fire

The huge fire that burnt down a Shell petrol station on Saturday morning in Nairobi’s Kasarani area was caused by a motorist who sped off after fueling before the fuel pump was disengaged from his car’s fuel tank. The CCTV camera recording shows the motorist in a silver saloon car pulling up at the station, where a fuel attendant talks to him and inserts the pump into his fuel tank and releases fuel.

Moments later, the motorist hits the accelerator immediately he pays the attendant, who is not quick enough to  pull out the fuel pump before the car takes off. The fuel attendant is seen following the car on co-drivers side, in a desperate bid to stop the driver. It’s not clear whether the motorist was avoiding paying for the fuel or drove without realizing the fuel pump was still in the fuel tank nozzle.

The force of the acceleration the pulls the entire fuel anchorage down, touching off a fire within seconds that bursts into a huge ball of fire that engulfed the entire petrol station, said to be owned by Vivo Energy. The driver of the car has been arrested, but it will be hard to find him with fault since petrol attendants usually fuel a car, dislodge the fuel pump, shut the car fuel tank before going for payment.

In this case, since the attendant went to ask for payment, the driver may have assumed the rest of the process had been taken care off and drove off.

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“The preliminary report indicates that the fire started after a vehicle fueled at the station and sped off while the pump was still inside the tank opening,” says the ERC. “This led to the pump being disconnected from the anchorage and dragged to about 30 metres away. Friction between the ground and the pump produced sparks which ignited a fire that quickly spread. The driver has since been apprehended by the police.”

The Energy Regulatory Commission has released a statement that explains the circumstances under which the fire started. The Red Cross reported that there were no casualties in the early morning incident.

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HERE IS THE FULL STATEMENT FROM ERC

This morning at around 7.05am, a fire broke out at Vivo Energy Limited’s Shell Petrol Station in Kasarani, Nairobi. Officers from the Energy Regulatory Commission immediately launched an investigation. The preliminary report indicates that the fire started after a vehicle fueled at the station and sped off while the pump was still inside the tank opening. This led to the pump being disconnected from the anchorage and dragged to about 30 metres away.

Friction between the ground and the pump produced sparks which ignited a fire that quickly spread. The driver has since been apprehended by the police. At about 7.25am, the Nairobi County Fire Brigade arrived on site and extinguished the fire. The police immediately cordoned the area, providing security and controlling both human and vehicle traffic.

There was extensive damage to the entire petrol station but there is no report of personal injury as all staff and members of the public were evacuated to the assembly point. The Commission wishes to advise all motorists to adhere to the advisory at fuel stations instructing motorists to switch off their engines before fueling. This will ensure that prescribed safety standards are adhered to.

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