Portable Stove Injures Woman on Fourth of July

This case involves a small explosion which took place at a family party. The plaintiff, a forty-three-year-old female, was preparing to make breakfast for her family, which were celebrating the Fourth of July at their lake house.  The female, a former chef, liked to cook outdoors and had a portable, gas cartridge stove so that she could cook outside. She had used a similar model (manufactured by the same company) on numerous occasions and had the model in question delivered the day before. Following all instructions, she attempted to use the portable stove, however, when she pressed the ignite button, the device exploded. She sustained second-degree burns on her legs and arms and damage to her lake house’s deck. Plaintiff retained an expert in explosives for the issue.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Are you familiar with portable stoves, and, if so, have you ever worked on a case involving an explosion involving a portable stove?

Expert Witness Response E-006910

I can definitely help with a failure analysis on this product to determine what went wrong. Gas cartridge stoves can be very dangerous. Essentially, a liquefied gas (propane or butane) is kept under pressure and is used to fuel the stove. Usually, this liquid instantly turns to a gaseous state when it is sent to the burner for the stove. By analyzing the specific design of the model in question, I can analyze what went wrong with its use. For gas cartridge stoves, there are models where the burner sits on top of the tank containing the fuel, and there are other stoves where the gas sits separate from the actual burner. In both cases, the valve system, along with the way that the burner is ignited, is critical to ensure that the device functions properly. If the actual stove and gas container exploded, and the woman is experienced in using the type of stove, there may have been an error with the valve, or the connecting tubing, causing an ignition of the pressurized, liquid material. With failure analysis, the device which exploded, and the subsequent parts, should be analyzed, specifically in the conditions that it was used. This will likely reveal any deformities, which, in many cases, is the cause of an explosion.

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