A gas explosion is an explosion resulting from mixing a gas, typically from a gas leak, with air in the presence of an ignition source. In household accidents, the principal explosive gases are those used for heating or cooking purposes such as natural gas, methane, propane, butane. In industrial explosions many other gases, like hydrogen, as well as evaporated (gaseous) gasoline (American English)/petrol (British English) or ethanol play an important role. Industrial gas explosions can be prevented with the use of intrinsic safety barriers to prevent ignition.
Lower and upper explosive limits
Whether a mixture of air and gas is combustible depends on the air-to-fuel ratio. For each fuel, ignition occurs only within the explosive range (i.e., the lower and upper explosive limits). For example, for methane and gasoline vapor, the explosive range is 5-15% and 1.4-7.6% gas to air, respectively.
List of gas explosions
- The Pittsburgh gasometer explosion occurred during the morning of November 14, 1927 in the north side of Pittsburgh. A large gasometer exploded, killing 28 people and injuring hundreds.
- The Mather Mine disaster occurred on May 19, 1928 at 4:07 PM in Mather, Pennsylvania. A methane gas and dust explosion resulted in the deaths of 195 men.
- The New London School explosion occurred on March 18, 1937, when a natural gas leak caused an explosion, destroying the New London School of the city of New London, Texas. The disaster killed three hundred students and teachers.
- The Cleveland East Ohio Gas Explosion occurred on the afternoon of Friday, October 20, 1944. The resulting gas leak, explosion and fires killed 130 people and destroyed a one square mile area on Cleveland, Ohio’s east side.
- On October 31, 1963, the Indianapolis Coliseum Explosion (now known as the Pepsi Coliseum) occurred during the opening night for the Holiday on Ice show, killing 74 and injuring nearly 400. The cause was an explosion following a propane tank leak.
- LaSalle Heights Disaster March 1, 1965. Gas line fractured in a low-cost residential neighborhood near Montreal, Quebec, killing 28 people and injuring 39.
- Reading, Pennsylvania, January 9, 1968. An explosion killed nine persons and demolished two houses. A gas company spokesman said Reading workmen digging in the street to repair a water main had hit a gas line shortly before the explosion.
- The Richmond, Indiana explosion, on Saturday, April 6, 1968. Two explosions occur in mid-afternoon, in the middle of downtown Richmond, Indiana. The first is caused by a natural gas leak, and the second, by gunpowder and ammunition inside a sporting goods store. 41 people are killed and more than 150 injured. Four square blocks of downtown Richmond, Indiana, are heavily damaged by the explosion or subsequent fire.
- Ronan Point was a 23-story council tower block in Newham, east London. On 16 May 1968 a gas explosion caused the collapse of a whole corner of the building. Four people were killed in the collapse, with one dying later of injuries.
- In April 8, 1970, a gas explosion that occurred during construction in Tenjimbashisuji Rokuchōme Station, Osaka Municipal Subway Tanimachi Line, Kita-ku, (formerly Oyodo district) Osaka, Japan, resulted in 79 persons dead, 420 persons injured and 495 houses and buildings burned and destroyed.
- Clarkston explosion on 21 October 1971, a build-up of gas under a shopping centre left 22 dead and around 100 injured.
- 23 October 1980, a propane explosion at Escuela Nacional de Marcelino Ugalde (Marcelino Ugalde Primary School), Ortuella, Vizcaya, Spain. According to the local government’s official report, 50 schoolchildren and 3 adult were killed and an additional 128 persons injured.
- 23 May 1984 Abbeystead disaster – an explosion resulting in 16 deaths and 22 injured from Methane entering waterwork pipes.
- 24 March 1986 Loscoe gas explosion – no fatalities but extensive property destruction, this caused the UK Government to legislate on landfill sites and building practices with regard to landfill gas migration.
- In July 1988, 167 people died when Occidental Petroleum‘s Alpha offshore production platform, on the Piper field in the North Sea, exploded after a gas leak
- The 1989 Ufa train disaster was caused by a gas explosion from a leaking pipeline as two trains went by, their sparks igniting the gas. 575 people died.
- The 1992 explosion in Guadalajara, Mexico‘s second largest city, took place on April 22, 1992 in the downtown district of Analco. Numerous gasoline explosions in the sewer system over four hours destroyed kilometers of streets. Officially, 206 people were killed, nearly 500 injured and 15,000 were left homeless.
- In April 28, 1995, Daegu Subway Line 1 Chapter 1-2 range interval is an explosion occurred on construction sites. The accident caused the accident area in the south west point Daegu Department Store Merchant grouting for new construction sites for drilling a 75mm hole drilling 31 drills by mistake by the city gas pipeline through the holes by punching the gas leak, near drain through a subway construction site been introduced into the explosion by fire of unknown cause is the one to buy. Of 50 m with an explosion of fire soared, and killed 101 people, include 42 Dalseo Sangindong high school students, 202 people were injured in Sangindong, Daegu, South Korea.
- The Humberto Vidal Explosion (sometimes also referred to as the Río Piedras Explosion) was a gas explosion that occurred on November 21, 1996, on the Humberto Vidal shoe store located in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, United States. The explosion killed 33 and wounded 69 others when the building collapsed. It is considered one of the deadliest disasters to have occurred on the island.
- On December 11, 1998, there was a gas explosion in St. Cloud, Minnesota, which killed four people.
- In December 1999, there was a natural gas explosion which completely destroyed one house and severely damaged four other houses in Larkhall, South Lanarkshire. It killed the family of four that lived in the house that exploded. Transco Gas who are responsible for maintaining the Gas Network were fined £15 million as the cause was found to be a severely corroded gas main directly outside the house.
- August 19, 2000, a natural gas transmission pipeline ruptured and a fire killed 12 campers near Carlsbad, New Mexico.
- On January 17, 2001, natural gas stored underground in Hutchinson, Kansas, leaked into empty brine caverns. Two explosions resulted from the leak. One destroyed two businesses and damaged 26 others. Another destroyed a trailer park killing two people. Sinkholes and gas leaks formed all around the city and the gas had to be slowly burned off.
- Arkhangelsk explosion of 2004: In Arkhangelsk, Russia, on March 16, 2004, a gas explosion in an apartment killed 58 people. Reportedly, a former gas technician caused the explosion due to a dispute with his former employers.
- On May 11, 2004, the Stockline Plastics Factory in the Maryhill area of Glasgow was destroyed by a gas explosion. The cause was found by a Health and Safety Executive report to be the ignition of gas from a ruptured pipe. Nine people were killed and 37 were injured, 15 seriously.
- The 2009 Viareggio train derailment, in Versilia, Italy, killed 33 people with the explosion of LPG that was contained in one of the train cars.
- September 9, 2010: In San Bruno, California, a suburb of San Francisco, a gas leak and explosion kills eight people. 53 homes were burned down and over 120 homes were damaged.
- On February 10, 2011 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, a gas explosion killed 5 people and levels a city block.
- On February 5, 2012 in the State of Washington, Josh Powell killed himself and two sons in a gas explosion at their home.
- August 14, 2012, Brentwood, New York (Suffolk County, New York; Long Island): A suspected gas explosion levels a house, killing a toddler and wounding up to 17 others.
- August 29, 2012, New Milford, Connecticut: An online Associated Press August 29 news article from the Boston Herald stated that, according to the Danbury News-Times, a propane leak explosion killed one man (a friend of the family who lived in the home who was a plumber and had come over to assist), and severely injured the homeowner and the older child of the deceased friend.
- Richmond Hill explosion: a natural gas explosion in the Richmond Hill neighborhood of southern Indianapolis took place on Saturday, November 10, 2012. Two people were killed and about 20 people were injured. The blast caused $4.4 million in damage and 33 homes were damaged severely enough that they needed to be demolished. The explosion was large enough that it registered on IUPUI seismic detectors and was felt for miles. Four people, including the home owner, were charged with felony murder. Prosecutors allege they intentionally caused the explosion for insurance money.
- On November 23, 2012, in Springfield, Massachusetts, a natural gas explosion destroyed two buildings, including one housing a strip club, damaging a total of 42 buildings. Firefighters, police officers and gas company workers were in the area because of an earlier gas leak. The explosion injured a total of 21 people, including 12 of the firefighters that responded to the gas leak. Astonishingly, there were no deaths relating to the explosion.
- The 2013 Rosario gas explosion in Argentina on 6 August 2013 left 21 dead.
- On March 12, 2014, the East Harlem apartment explosion occurred within two buildings in the East Harlem section of Manhattan in New York City. Eight people were killed and more than 70 were injured.
- On September 15, 2015, in Pennsville, New Jersey, a main gas line explosion and subsequent fast-moving fire destroyed a modified house building, with a second-story apartment. The building was used as the Law Offices of John Jordan. Kline Construction, a South Jersey Gas Company contractor, was performing work in the area as part of a gas main and renewal project. South Jersey Gas Company is a natural gas company that serves Salem County, NJ, and also has offices in Atlantic County, NJ, and Gloucester County, NJ. Workers from Kline punctured a natural main gas line nearby causing a gas leak into the basement of the building. As the building’s heat source was natural gas, there was a heater with a pilot light in the basement. As the gas built up, the heater’s pilot light became the ignition source of the explosion. A year later the company was fined US$300,000 by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities after their investigation found multiple safety violations. No one was injured in the blast or fire. However, the neighboring homes suffered smoke and structural damage as a result. 
- On July 31, 2014, the Kaohsiung gas explosions occurred due to gas leak on the gas pipeline beneath the public roads in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
- On 3 June 2016, there was a gas explosion in the Dutch city of Urk. Three houses were completely destroyed, and three people were wounded. 
- On July 3, 2016, a natural gas explosion occurred in the city of Melvindale, MI when a car crashed through a fence at and hit a large natural gas line. Two buildings in the facility’s complex caught fire as a result of the explosion – but no injuries were reported at the facility.
- On August 10, 2016, a gas explosion occurred at an apartment building in Silver Spring, Maryland. The explosion killed 7 and injured more than 40 people. 
- On July 2, 2017, a gas leak at a home in Manor Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, caused the death of a gas company employee. Three other people were injured. 
- On September 13, 2018, in the Massachusetts gas explosions, a set of 60 to 100 fires and explosions caused by natural gas occurred in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover, Massachusetts. Much of the area was evacuated, and several casualties were reported.
- 2019 Paris explosion – on January 12, 2019, in central Paris, a gas explosion in a house with in a bakery killed 3 and injured about 40.
- On January 18, 2019, in the Tlahuelilpan pipeline explosion, an illicitly tapped fuel pipeline exploded in Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo, Mexico, killing at least 66 people and wounding 76 others. It is believed the explosion occurred after the line was ruptured by suspected fuel thieves.
- “Final Report On Mather Mine Explosion Pickands-Mather and Company Mather, Pennsylvania May 19, 1928” (PDF). United States Bureau of Mines. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 2, 2014. Retrieved 2013-08-24.
- Humphrey, H. B. “Historical Summary of Coal-Mine Explosions in the United States, 1810-1958”. UNT Digital Library. Retrieved 2013-08-24.
- Drabek, Thomas (1995-05-18). “Disaster in Aisle 13 Revisited”. Retrieved 2008-10-07.
- “1963 Coliseum explosion killed 74”. Archived from the original on 2012-05-04. Retrieved 2012-05-25.
- “Case Details:Gas Explosion at a Subway Construction Site”. Archived from the original on 2018-06-02. Retrieved 2018-06-02.
- es:Ortuella#accidente de 1980 (Spanish language) Retrieved date on February 14, 2016.
- “CORROSION FAILURES: El Paso Natural Gas Pipeline Explosion”. www.nace.org. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
- Blast Kills 5 in Pennsylvania, https://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/11/us/11allentown.html
- “Explosion at Long Island home kills 18-month-old boy, injures at least 17 and demolishes house – NY Daily News”. web.archive.org. 17 August 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
- Rinehart, Jack; Monet, Ebone (12 November 2012). “36 homes critically damaged in explosion in south side neighborhood” (News article and video). The Indy Channel (Online Article). Retrieved 6 July 2014.
Thirty-six homes sustained critical damage in an explosion that killed two people on Indianapolis’ south side, inspectors said. The explosion happened Saturday night at a home at 8349 Fieldfare Way in the Richmond Hill subdivision near Sherman Drive between County Line and Stop 11 roads.
- Berry, Connor. “Springfield explosion cause: ‘Human error,’ Massachusetts fire marshal says”. The Republican. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
- José Bordón (August 13, 2013). “Hallan tres cuerpos más y asciende a 21 el número de víctimas en Rosario” [Three more bodies are found, and the bodycount in Rosario rises to 21] (in Spanish). La Nación. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
- 8th body found in ruins of East Harlem buildings – USA Today https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/03/13/east-harlem-explosion-gas-leak-bodies/6363235/
- “N.J. fire caused by natural gas explosion, police confirm”. NJ.com. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
- “Gas company fined $300K for violations that caused N.J. home explosion”. NJ.com. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
- “Gewonden door gasexplosie Urk”. Telegraaf. 3 June 2016. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
- “Natural Gas Explosion Caused Apt. Blast; 3 Victims IDed”. NBC4 Washington. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
- KNAPP, TOM. “‘It’s really gone’: Homeowner says she’s in shock after gas explosion destroys her home in Manor Township”. LancasterOnline. Retrieved 3 January 2019.
- Betancourt, Sarah (14 September 2018). “One dead in Massachusetts after gas explosions ignite dozens of fires”. Retrieved 3 January 2019 – via www.theguardian.com.
- Offenbar Gasleck: Tote und Verletzte nach Explosion in Paris (German)
- “Mexico pipeline blast kills 66 and injures dozens more”. BBC News. 19 January 2019. Retrieved 19 January 2019.