Video released of gas station explosion

June 15, 2016 06:17 PM

Warning: Video contains graphic footage

A car burst into flames just feet away from a gas pump in Rochester around 12:20 Wednesday morning. 

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Police say a 45-year-old Greece man was putting a gas can in the trunk of his car at the Sunoco station on Portland Avenue near Clifford Avenue. Investigators still aren't sure exactly why the can exploded. Shortly after putting the gas can in his trunk, something caused it to ignite. Authorities believe something ignited vapors from the gas can -- causing it to burst into flames.

Battalion Chief James Hartman says, "It can be ignited simply from static electricity. The spark generated from when you rub your hair or rub clothing or even the action of getting in and out of cloth seats could have created the spark."

The man, identified as 44-year-old Igor Pataco of Greece, was thrown backwards. His clothing was on fire as he rolled on the pavement to extinguish the flames. He suffered third degree burns over 30 percent of his body, but fire officials say his injuries are not life-threatening. They say he did the right thing by dropping to the ground.

"If someone's clothes catch on fire, the proper thing is to stop, drop and roll and try to extinguish the fire," says Chief Hartman.

The flames also damaged the front of the Sunoco station. Salem Nagi owns the store, and says his employees raced for the door after the car exploded.

"They were very shocked and they were very afraid of that too," says Nagi.

You've probably seen the warnings at the pumps about the dangers of filling portable gas cans. While explosions like these are considered rare, Wednesday morning's incident is a reminder of the dangers.

According to the American Burn Association, you should only use approved containers. Place them on the ground; don't fill them while the container is in your car, your trunk or in the bed of a pick-up. Make sure it has a lid and it's secured tightly. Wipe the outside after you've filled the gas container and secure it to make sure it doesn't slide while you're driving.

No one else was injured. Authorities say Pataco was conscious when firefighters arrived and is being treated for his burns at Strong Memorial Hospital.


Gasoline safety


Brett Davidsen

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