Cell phones have caused explosions at gas stations-Fiction!

Cell Phones have Caused Explosions at Gas Stations-Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

There are several different versions that describe instances when explosions or fires were caused at gas stations by people using cell phones.

The Truth:

The bottom line is that there are no documented cases that anyone can find of gas fumes being ignited by a cell phone.  

The issue is not a simple one, however, because some oil companies have issued bans on cell phones at their stations and cell phone manufacturers have printed warnings about using their equipment around fuel vapors.  

Some observers say that the warnings are reactions to the false rumors of explosions and deaths caused by cell phones.

One of the eRumors describes three occasions of fires from cell phones: A man who was burned when a cell phone sitting on a bumper rang and caused and explosion; a man who was burned in the face while talking on his phone as he was pumping gas; a man whose phone caused a fire in the pocket of his pants while pumping gas.  There’s no proof that any of the stories is true.

Another oft-repeated story comes from Adelaide, Australia where, it is said, an explosion at a gas station in 1999 was caused by a man using a cell phone.  A spokesperson for the the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service says, however, there was no cell phone involved in the fire and he doesn’t know how the rumor about the cell phone got started.  The incident was mentioned in a 1999 article in The Bankok Post, which also said that a man from Indonesia was burned when his cell phone caused an explosion at a gas station. No substantiation has ever been found.

A wire service story circulated in 1999 out of Trail, British Columbia that said a man caught fire when the cell phone he was using caused an explosion while he filled his gas tank at a gas station.  It caused quite a stir in Canada, but was later declared an urban legend.

Cell phone makers including Motorola and Nokia have included warnings about not using cell phones around gas vapors.  In August of 1999, David Rudd, a spokesman for Motorola, told the San Francisco Chronicle that his company’s warning was because of the remote possibility that a dislodged battery cause cause a spark, not because of the transmission of radio signals.  

After stories started circulating in 1999 about explosions caused by cell phones, many companies began issuing bans on cell phone use at their gas stations including Chevron, Union 76, Circle K, Shell, Petro-Canada, Esso, and Exxon.  Portable phones have been banned at gas stations in parts of Europe for many years, but Nokia spokesperson Megan Matthews told the Associated press on Jan 14, 1999 that those rules were from a bygone era when portable phones were more powerful than modern phones and that the bans were rarely enforced.