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What causes cooking gas explosion

Thursday night of November 19, 2020 will remain etched in the memories of Mwingi town residents as when a 13kg gas exploded, burning the user and frightening neighbours and families in the quiet residence stuck on the left side of Nairobi-Garissa highway.

Cooking gases on sale. Photo/FILE

Mwingi Times wishes the victims of the accident quick recovery. Today we examine what causes cooking gases to explode, what can be done to avert this and a Day Two Journalism follow up of the injured.

We have established that the model of the gas which exploded was Hash gas. This has been revealed by a close neighbour who heard the explosion and was present at the scene during the rescue mission.

In its publication last year, Business Today delved into the causes of cylinder blasts. It christened such accidents as “death in a cylinder”.

Human error at the manufacture and using of the said cooking gases can lead to massive blasts.

In June 2019, one person died and two others were seriously injured when a gas exploded in Mlolongo, Machakos County.

The explosion was caused by transportation of the gas cylinders as they were being offloaded from a truck. One of the cylinders was engulfed in flames during the exercise, reports Business Today.

Another cause of gas explosion is leakage of the natural gas due to loose fittings of the regulator.

A customer has the right to be sold a safe gas cylinder complete with rightly fitted regulators and in the required weight.


Sellers should weigh the gas with normally operating weighing machines which has not been interfered with in order for clients to enjoy the convenience of cooking any time they want at their abodes and in a safe manner.

Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) advised wananchi to check the serial numbers of the cooking gases.

“Ensure that the cylinder is within the validation period by checking on the cylinder’s collar where the last date for validation is stamped. The cylinder should not be more than 8 years old from your date of purchase”, said ERC in a flyer distributed to the public.

ERC also adds that customers should ensure that the cylinder has no physical damage like dents and rust. This is aimed at safeguarding the security of the users.

The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) is concerned about rising cases of unsafe cooking gases which are sold in the market to unsuspecting Kenyans.

Epra said last year that those who sell faulty cooking gases to Kenyans will be answerable if they explode during usage.

Still, Mwingi Times spoke to a senior county planner based at Kwale County. Chris Vundi discouraged users of cooking gases from shaking the gas for whatever reason.

Kenyans shake gases “to establish if the gas is enough”, its weigh and for the mere practice of seeing others do it they also do so.

In a bullet pointer, Chris lists the causes of gas explosion. The first point is do not agitate the cylinder. In Kikamba, this is called kuthingithya. Ensure minimal movement of the gas during transporting.

Another factor that causes explosion is exposure to sunlight. Others are end-user “integrity”, Mole density of the propane (read LPG), and structural integrity of the cylinder, room temperature and atmospheric pressure.

Zinda Law Group, a US consulting company on natural gas reiterates that leaking gas is prone to explosion. “A gas explosion occurs when there is a gas leak combined with an ignition source”, says Zinda on its website.

Other causes of gas explosion are improper use of gas furnace, stove or appliance, including leaking due to gas lines being hooked up incorrectly.

Old, worn-out, rusty gas lines coming from the street into to your home can lead to explosion too. Defective equipment such as gas grills and acetylene torches that use gas as power or fuel source can be explosive too.

If a manufacturing company violates the codes and standards governing safe handling of gas or propane, this can lead to explosion of the gas.

Faulty manufacturing procedures used in building gas tanks for automobiles can also cause natural gas explosions.

The Mwingi family involved in a gas explosion ordeal survived the incident with a neighbour saying that she does not know where they went to hospital.  “They left in the morning. It was not a serious burn”, she says before hanging up.


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