Propane tank explodes inside car when Iowa woman lights a cigarette

An Iowa woman was burned when a propane tank exploded inside the car she was driving was listed in good condition Monday at a Lincoln hospital.

Angela Thurman, 42, of Pacific Junction, is being treated in the burn unit at St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Investigators with the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office determined that Thurman was heading south on Interstate 29 on Saturday when a propane tank in her car exploded about 12:45 p.m. just north of the Mills County line.

“A deputy (at the scene) told me that the woman had three propane tanks in her car, and one was leaking,” Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker said Monday. “There was an explosion, and the car caught fire when the woman lit a cigarette.”

Thurman was able to get the car stopped and exit before another propane tank and the vehicle’s gas tank also exploded, Danker said. The car was destroyed.

The propane tanks were fairly large, Danker said, and were the type used to power a forklift or another industrial machine. One of the propane tanks was found flattened 20 yards from the vehicle, he said.

Several people stopped to help Thurman, who was rushed by ambulance to a Council Bluffs hospital before being transferred to Lincoln. A section of I-29 was shut down after the explosion.

“She’s very lucky to be alive,” Danker said. “There wasn’t much left of her car.”

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