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Thread: Hypothetical Explosion/Fire Scenario

  1. #1 Hypothetical Explosion/Fire Scenario 
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    Apr 2011
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    Let me start by apologizing in the event that I'm posting this in the wrong place; Science is not my forté, hence the plea for input. :wink:'

    Anyway, I'm writing a story that involves a shootout in a warehouse, and I want the scene to end in an accidental explosion and/or fire. I know from watching Mythbusters that the common movie trope of shooting a propane tank with a pistol doesn't really cause an explosion because the bullet doesn't spark enough for a reaction (they did get an explosion when they used incendiary rounds, but that's a little over the top for my run-of-the-mill gangsters).

    So, here's my question: If said propane tank was shot at and started to leak, and then an old industrial ceiling light came crashing to floor with lots of sparks, could that hypothetically start an explosion and/or a fire? I know it's not the most realistic scenario, but as long as it's plausible, I'm OK with it.

    Thoughts? Better suggestions?


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  3. #2  
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    I think it's plausible. The bullet didn't do the trick in the mythbuster test, even the tracer, because the propane inside the tank is not flammable. It has to be mixed with oxygen before it will ignite. The propane around the leaking tank mixes with air, and that can be ignited. It would have to be ignited pretty quickly, before the propane all leaks out of the tank and the vapor cloud disperses.


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