Propane tank explodes in SUV when passenger lights cigarette, police say

Driver, passenger taken to area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

ORLANDO, Fla. – A propane tank being hauled in an SUV exploded Sunday afternoon when a passenger lit a cigarette while the vehicle was in front of the entrance to the Central Florida Fairgrounds, Orlando police said.

The Orlando Police Department officials said Pierre Dadaille was driving a rented Kia Sorento and his wife, Meguydeline Dessource, was in the passenger's seat around 3:30 p.m.

The propane tank was in the rear of the vehicle.

Police said Dadaille originally stated that Dessources lit a cigarette moments before the explosion, but then later recanted and said all he could remember was placing a lighter on top of the dashboard. 

Dessources denied lighting a cigarette. Her brother, Daniel Dessources, came to her defense Monday.

"Nobody actively lit on, she wouldn't actively light it, like, there is a gas tank in the back. My sister is not dumb," he said. "They were smoking and at some point of time they put it in the ashtray and I guess they didn't fully put it out and the gas tank was on leaking still connected."

Police said the grill, which was turned on, had a propane tank attached that was open and connected.

​Orlando Fire Department Hazmat Engineer Dennis Pinkman explained how this could have happened.

"They never shut down the top of the tanks, so when they put [the grill] in, they inadvertently turned on one of the knobs to have the burners go on and that's when the leak was caused," he said. "They are lucky to be alive."

Police said the vehicle was severely damaged, and the driver and passenger were taken to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries and third-degree burns.

Shards from the explosion also damaged a nearby Chevrolet.

Police said Dadaille had an open warrant for his arrest on charges of aggravated fleeing and eluding.​

Ahead of Labor Day, the Orlando Fire Department is offering up tips on how to properly check your propane tank. A 2016 report from the National Fire Protection Association shows 8,900 home fires are started by grills each year on average.

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