Fire investigator says camera explosion was a freak accident

A MINISCULE spark inside a camera. Seeping gas filling the air. Just the right amount of heat.

Everything lined up in the most unlikely way for a 35-year-old woman who escaped serious injury on Sunday when the simple act of taking a photo triggered a powerful explosion.

Experts have weighed-in on the rare phenomenon, which left the woman with superficial burns to her face. She was discharged from Nambour General Hospital yesterday.

The woman was taking photographs of a house her builder husband recently completed.

The explosion caused damage to the house, which was due to be handed over to new owners that day.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services investigator Gordon Hemphrey said it could only be described as a "freak accident".

He said inspections confirmed the outdoore barbecue was installed to standard and the remotely located LPG gas cylinder, which fed gas to various parts of the house, including the barbecue, was in order.

Mr Hemphrey said anything that was electronic and used a battery had an electronic current passing through it which was capable of triggering an explosion if it came in contact with gas.

Initial investigations indicate the knob of the barbecue was turned to the "on" position by mistake and when the gas cylinder was also turned on for a house inspection, the barbecue started to leak gas.

"Unfortunately this woman walked into the gas cloud with the camera, taking photographs," Mr Hemphrey said.

"It is not something we see often, but it's likely gas has seeped into the camera and created enough energy to trigger the ignition.

"It was a real freak accident. A thousand other people could have taken photos in the same spot, but this was unluckily just the right mix of gas, air and temperature in the unit to explode."

University of the Sunshine Coast lecturer in science Neil Tindale said anything that can create a spark can ignite a cloud of gas - even cameras.


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