Fire officials demand removal of Y2K fuel stash : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Let's not have anyone burn/blow up at home due to "preparing" --

from The Virginian-Pilot, Nov. 18, 1999

Fair use rule applies; educational purposes only. (Emphasis supplied below is mine -- CL)


Fire officials demand removal of Y2K fuel stash

BY TIM McGLONE, The Virginian-Pilot

Copyright 1999, Landmark Communications Inc.

VIRGINIA BEACH -- Terry Santure thought he was protecting himself from possible Y2K disasters when he brought home two 55-gallon drums of diesel fuel and another drum of gasoline.

If Y2K computer problems on Jan. 1 cause power outages, he'd be ready to fire up his generator and power his pickup truck.

But firefighters saw it differently. They thought there was a greater need to protect Santure's neighbors and demanded that he remove the drums, officials said.

That amount of gasoline alone could cause an explosion and fire that would take out an entire city block, particularly a block of townhomes where Santure lives on Buckminister Lane in the Lake Edward neighborhood, firefighters said.

Fifty-five gallons of gasoline mixed with 110 gallons of diesel fuel could destroy an entire neighborhood, they said.

Though Santure broke no laws, firefighters are using the incident as a reminder to residents that precautions need to be taken when storing hazardous materials such as fuel.

Fire Capt. Bill R. Smith said the department has received a number of calls from residents asking how they should store their Y2K emergency fuel supplies. But the Nov. 3 inspection of Santure's home was the first time this year firefighters had to investigate a report of hazardous Y2K materials in someone's house.

"I guess people are storing it, trying to prepare, but they're creating a much more dangerous environment than what they're preparing for," Smith said.

To illustrate the dangers involved in storing fuels, police and firefighters set up a demonstration on Tuesday at the old Creeds air strip in the southern end of the city.

The Police Department bomb squad set two jugs, each containing about a quarter gallon of gasoline, inside a small junk car at the end of an abandoned landing strip. Members of the bomb squad put an ignition device inside the car and then ran an electrical line about 100 yards to where they stood.

Firefighters, meanwhile, waited in their fire trucks about 200 yards away. Sgt. B.B. Batten counted down, 3, 2, 1, and hit the ignition switch. The flash inside the car was bright, but quiet. A split-second later, the explosion blew out the car's windows and shook the car left to right and up and down.

Flames shot out the sides and a cloud of thick black smoke mushroomed toward the sky. The white car turned black in seconds as fire swept through the inside and then engulfed the outside.

"That shows you what a small quantity of gas can do when it vaporizes and ignites. You put that amount times 10 and you can imagine what could happen," Smith said.

That's why firefighters were so concerned when they were notified by Santure's neighbors that he had drums of fuel in his garage, which is attached to his house. They inspected and then returned on Nov. 3 with a search warrant.

Firefighters had to obtain the warrant because Santure works on tug boats and spends long stretches on the water and was not home at the time, according to his ex-wife, Michele Galdun, who was living there at the time but does not own the property.

She said she wasn't comfortable with the drums of fuel in the garage, but Santure insisted they would be needed in case there were Y2K disasters.

The theory is that a computer glitch over dates programmed in older computers could cause machines to malfunction leading to utility outages, banking problems and automobile failures.

But storing large drums of fuel in an enclosed, unventilated room could lead to explosions, firefighters said.

For example, the fumes from a large drum of gasoline kept in an enclosed room could be ignited by a pilot light on a furnace or water heater, Smith said.

"I always knew about the dangers. It could have been catastrophic for the neighborhood," Galdun said.

Santure, who declined to comment, agreed to have a professional company remove the three hazardous drums, firefighters said.

Firefighters said residents can keep up to 120 gallons of fuel, but only in an approved, ventilated container stored in a structure that is not part of a dwelling.

Firefighters allow up to 25 gallons of fuel to be stored inside a dwelling, but only in approved containers.

Smith, however, suggested that all fuels be kept outside of a dwelling.

Reach Tim McGlone at 446-2343 or

-- Chicken Little (, November 18, 1999


I like the part where they say he didn't break the law, and where the neighbors ratted to the authorities about the Y2K preps, and how a search warrant was executed, and how he was ordered to remove it even though it wasn't against the law.

Having said that, it's important not to blow yourself up with Y2K preps whether it's gas or guns.

-- Dog Gone (, November 18, 1999.

It is so nice to see you again mistress Little. I do so hope that the chicks are doing well. And that you have personally fared well. It is too bad that you didn't want the hard hat ( I did managed to fine a "hot pink" for you.

And yes, I to agree. There are much better ways to store said fuels. Like out at your deer lease, for instance.


-- Shakey (in_a_bunker@forty.feet), November 18, 1999.

Well there's prepping and then there's perping

-- (OverTheEdge@afine.madness), November 18, 1999.

They thought there was a greater need to protect Santure's neighbors and demanded that he remove the drums...

Though Santure broke no laws, firefighters are using the incident as a reminder to residents that precautions need to be taken when storing hazardous materials such as fuel.

Personally, I'd tell 'em to BLOW ME. Lesse, "broke no laws"... "ordered to remove them"... Hey, I've got it now! ZIEG HEIL!

-- Dennis (, November 18, 1999.

I think what was described is terrifying.

-- Paula (, November 18, 1999.


He may not have broken a specific law saying "you can only have x gallons of fuel stored" but I'd bet the local fire marshal has the authority to deal with situations that he/she deem to present an "imminent danger". I mean, if some idiot decided to store gasoline in open buckets next to your house, wouldn't you want the fire marshal to step in?


-- TECH32 (TECH32@NOMAIL.COM), November 18, 1999.

There's a little less of a problem when you live in an area zoned for agriculture!

-- Mad Monk (, November 18, 1999.


I must disagree. "Broke no laws" = "Broke no 'regulations'."

A regulation IS a "law". Right? You are either within the law, or NOT. No middle ground, IMO.

-- Dennis (, November 18, 1999.

Dennis sounds like one of these people who live in an apartment with thin walls. When he feels like blasting his stereo, he has a *right* to do it. When his neighbor does it, he has a *right* to peace and quiet!

Common sense usually leads to reasonable compromises. But this assumes sensible people, not lawyers!

-- Flint (, November 18, 1999.

glad to see the chicken back among us. Chicken, I hope things are at least moving back towards normal for you and your neighbors.

Storing the gasoline inside is a bad move. Diesel shouldn't be so dangerous by itself. Remember, if we need to use the stuff, the fire department may be difficult to contact, and may already be busy anyway. It's better to err on the side of safety, even if it means inconvenience..

Got fire extinguishers?



-- gene (, November 18, 1999.

Fear not, city dwellers won't be traveling anyway unless it's by 'bus'.

-- Will continue (, November 18, 1999.


Go back and re-read my post. I said "has the authority". That means legal authority. That means legally granted the right to determine what situations present a safety risk in the abscence of a specific regulation or statute. Municipalities do stuff like this so they don't have to write regulatations covering every tiny detail of our lives (more than they already do that is...).


-- TECH32 (TECH32@NOMAIL.COM), November 18, 1999.

Friend of mine burns cars for a living (honest he does it for police and fire departments and forensic seminars) and the ONLY way they got the car to blow was to use an explosive device and THEN an ignition device to create a fuel-air bomb. greg has tried for several years to get a car to explode when on fire like Hollyrot does regularly and hasn't had one go yet.

Another friend HAS gotten a car to blow like Hollyrot but he said it took 2 each quarter sticks of dynamite and a half full gas tank (times the explosions to get the fuel-air effect)


-- Chuck, a night driver (, November 19, 1999.

I live in Kentucky, and early in the evening (the 18th) a friend of mine was at work at an area radio station when the following fax came in. I can understand why there is concern that if some individuals try to stockpile fuel, it would increase the risk of a fire or an explosion. I do understand that.

What I'm uncertain about is why this fax was released at this time. Is this simply a prudent step on the Commonwealth's part to warn Kentucky of the dangers of storing fuel, or, for example, is it just a coincidence that this fax came out at the same time as the article that Chicken Little posted?

One other thing...on the local news on TV at 6 PM, there was a story about a sharp increase in gasoline prices today in my area (Kentuckiana). The story said that AAA was getting calls about the sudden price increase.

Here's the fax:


1047 US Highway 127 S, BAY 1
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601-4322

For Immediate Release
November 18, 1999

Contact - Dave Manley

State Fire Marshal's Office Warns Against Fuel Stockpiling

State Fire Marshal Dave Manley says that the public's anticipation of a fuel shortage, caused by Y2K, is prompting some citizens to try stockpiling standby fuel for vehicles and other needs. While these incidents have been isolated, the Fire Marshal wants citizens to know the dangers of stockpiling.

Placing containers of fuel in vehicles can cause serious fires if the vehicles are involved in an accident or the container leaks. Manley warns that accidents involving these stockpiled fuels will be investigated and there will be serious liability issues addressed by the State Fire Marshal. The Fire Marshal's Office regulates the petroleum industries and feels that the possibility of short term availability of fuels will not be an issue.

"Even in the unlikely event of a short term fuel shortage, this temporary inconvenience does not justify the danger of improper handling or storage of these volatile fuels," said Manley.


-- Linkmeister (, November 19, 1999.

November 18th also happened to be the day that this article was on the news wires:

"White House Urges Calm for Pre-Y2K Grocery Buying"

-- Linkmeister (, November 19, 1999.

The Fire Marshal's Office regulates the petroleum industries and "feels" that the possibility of short term availability of fuels will not be an issue.

"...Even in the unlikely event of a short term fuel shortage, this temporary inconvenience does not justify the danger of improper handling or storage of these volatile fuels," said Manley.

Manley Man your not saying how you "FEEL" about the Long Term.

If people are stockpiling fuel, they are not doing it out of concern of short-term shortages. Please get a clue.

-- ** (, November 19, 1999.

Government has no right to place hardships upon us for things we MIGHT do, or for things that MIGHT happen, or for things we MIGHT say, or for things we MIGHT think. When laws and regulations are imposed, they are designed to deal with a specific threat to public safety or social problems.

For example, when I had my 500 gallon propane tank installed in the back yard, a township representative was called by the neighbors to investigate. When he showed up on my doorstep, he stated that "according to township regulations, the tank cannot be larger than 500 gallons, and must be an 'above-ground' installation." Since I'd already checked the regs on that, we thanked him and sent him on his way.

The Fire Marshall can only enforce FIRE CODE issues, not "create" laws and regulations on his own. Since it was PLAINLY stated that no laws were violated, the Fire Marshall was acting illegally. Personally, I would respectfully refuse to comply, and instruct them to obtain a court order, which would be based on some law that had been broken. I would not expect their return.

And to little Finty-boy,

1) I do NOT live in an apartment (but I bet YOU sure do!)

2) I never played my stereo loudly when I DID live in apartments, many years ago.

3) I consider my rights to end only when someone else's are infringed upon by my actions. Not by what I *MIGHT* do "someday".

You sir, are a jackass, and I understand why you are so hated. (BTW, I have 4 - 55 gallon drums of gasoline in my garage (gasp!). These drums are steel, and properly vented and grounded. They are also rated by the mfr for petro-chemicals. The MANUAL PUMP is also petro-chemical rated. But, as always, YOU advocate complete government control over every aspect of our lives, "for the good of the many". You are a Socialist pig.)

42 days.

-- Dennis (, November 19, 1999.


Sounds like you were storing them correctly.

Galdun wasn't. The drums weren't venilated and they were being stored in a room attached to his house. Both no-no's.

He also had more than the allowed 120 gallons. Another no-no.

I'm fairly certain I wouldn't want some dimwit storing 165 gallons of gasoline next door to me. I'm fairly certain you wouldn't either.


-- Deano (, November 19, 1999.

Dimwit storage? HELL NO.

Responsible storage? No problem.

BUT, just for the sake of discussion, why didn't the fire guys give him information on proper storage requirements, and allow him a week to do it right? Just "demanding removal" isn't right, IMHO.

-- Dennis (, November 19, 1999.


I can agree with that.

But also for the sake of discussion, what, if in that 7 day period there was a big ol' hole where that neighborhood used to be? Storing beans and rice is one thing, storing gasoline is another. He didn't know how to do it right (and apparently did not research on how to do it right) and they called him on it.


-- Deano (, November 19, 1999.

Hmm, broke no laws, but paid the price anyway?

What is he, the anti-clinton?

Hey, maybe next his pd can blow up a junk car with five pounds of *flour* to give a pretext for the fire marshall to outlaw food too.

Now *what* was the temperature in fahrenheit that paper ignites at?

-- Ron Schwarz (, November 19, 1999.


Look, police are authorized to arrest someone who is 'distubing the peace' even though the statute itself might not list every single offense covered by the charge. It's a catch-all, designed to handle SITUATIONS not explicitly listed elsewhere. That's why these statutes include wording like "shall include, but is not limited to,..."

The legislators who write these laws are not psychic; they can't know in advance EVERY situation that might arise which that will require action. They grant this priveledge to the police, and in many cases to the fire marshal, to enforce the INTENT of the statute, not just it's specific wording. If you disagree, you get your day in court.

If this guy wanted to, he could have gone to a judge and asked for an injuction preventing the fire marshal from ordering him to remove the barrels. He didn't. He chose to defer to the authority of someone who (as the facts bear out) knows better than he does how fuel should and shouldn't be stored.

Get over it.


-- TECH32 (TECH32@NOMAIL.COM), November 19, 1999.

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