Former gas station owner burned in explosion

Posted: Tuesday, May 16, 2000

KENAI (AP) -- A former gas station owner was seriously burned when an underground tank at the station exploded.

Sam Gibson, 60, was trying to empty the tank Monday when it exploded. He received burns to most of his face and was in stable condition at Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna.

Gary Hale, fire marshal for Central Emergency Services in Soldotna, said there was no apparent damage to the building at Gibson's former SS&T Tesoro station near Mile 91.3 on the Sterling Highway east of Soldotna.

''It was like an earthquake,'' said Sandy Gries, a cashier at Big John's, across the highway from SS&T. ''It shook the whole ground and the building.''

Gibson was attempting to pump the remaining 2 inches of gasoline from an underground 12,000-gallon storage tank to a 55-gallon drum when his electric pump quit moving gasoline after about a minute so. When he turned the pump off and peered into the tank, it exploded.

''It was just a big flash. Bam!'' Gibson said.

Hale said Gibson was wearing coveralls made from 65 percent polyester. Around North Slope oil and gas fields, polyester cloth is known for producing static electricity and sparks.

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