Fire destroyed a vehicle Friday after the driver accidentally ignited propane vapors inside the vehicle.
Donald Reichert, 77, of 2322 W. Fifth St. was driving near 3101 Osborne Drive West at the time of the explosion. He told firefighters that he was trying to light a portable space heater sitting next to the driver’s seat. He said the heater had been leaking from the top of the propane bottle, but the thought he stopped the leak. When he tried lighting the heater, there was an explosion in front of him.
A witness saw the vehicle windows blow out as it was driving down the road. The vehicle then pulled over, as its interior caught fire.
The van was engulfed in flames when Hastings firefighters arrived to put out the fire. The van was reportedly a total loss.
Firefighters found Reichert appeared to have extensive burns. He was taken to Mary Lanning Healthcare. His condition was unavailable.
After investigating the scene, firefighters determined the propane bottle did not explode. They believe vapors had built up in the van while Reichert was fixing the leak. When he tried to light the heater, the vapors ignited and seemed to cause an explosion.