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Static Electricity Fires

With the weather turning colder, the air becomes dryer, and with those changes comes the potential for static electricity fires at gas pumps. KSMU's Katherine Mayo reports.

As the weather turns colder, and the air becomes dryer, the potential for static electricity fires at gas pumps increases.

Although static electricity fires are unusual, they do occur. And John Albert, investigator for the Department of Agriculture, weights and measures, hopes with education more people can be aware of the dangers.

Albert says Missouri has 10 reported cases of static fires, one in Springfield. So far, none of the fires have caused any deaths.

He says when static electricity hits the gasoline vapors it can cause a flash or a small contained fire.

Albert says the best way to avoid fires is to wait outside the vehicle for the few minutes it takes to fill the vehicle. But, he says, if someone needs to re-enter their vehicles during fueling, make sure to touch the metal on the outside of the vehicle before grabbing the gas pump.

Albert says static electricity fires can happen at anytime during the year, but the cold and dry air during the winter make conditions more favorable for the fires.

He says if a fire does occur, leave the nozzle in the fill pipe, back away from the vehicle, and notify the station attendant immediately.