A bizarre car wash explosion in western Pennsylvania left two men hurt, a business in ruins — and the owner of the car wash, who was one of the men injured, most likely embarrassed for apparently setting off the blast, due to an unfortunate circumstance that possibly could have been avoided with a little Sudafed.
The blast happened at Ducky’s Car Wash on East O’Hara Street in McDonald, Pennsylvania — a suburb about 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh — at about 9:45 a.m. Sunday morning. Fortunately, the car wash was not bust at the time, but there was one customer, Dennis Fodse, washing his Ford Explorer in one bay of the self-service, coin-operated car wash.
The owner of the car wash attempted to light the boiler on the chilly morning, with temperatures in the 30s. But in his effort to stay warm, he failed to notice one important problem: the boiler, police say, was leaking gas.
Why didn’t the owner, whose name has not been released, pick up on this crucial detail? According to investigators, he was suffering from a nasty cold that was causing nasal congestion. In other words, a stuffy nose.
Congestion, as anyone who has ever suffered a cold knows, blocks the olfactory response — meaning the car wash owner simply failed to smell the gas.
That’s why he didn’t think twice about flicking his lighter to ignite the boiler. But that turned out to be a big mistake.
“It sounded like a bomb went off,” said neighbor Toni Multunas. “I saw the owner walking around, and I yelled and I saw him in a daze.”
Indeed the owner is lucky to be alive, as is Dennis Fodse. The blast was powerful that it shattered the window of a nearby home. The explosion blasted through a brick wall separating the car wash bays and caused the car wash roof to cave in.
Fodse’s wife, Amy Fodse, was seated in the passenger seat of the Ford Explorer when the gas explosion hit.
“I climbed over the console, got out on the driver’s side. Bricks were falling. Everything was just happening so quickly,” she said, adding that her husband suffered burns in the blast.
“He has singes on his face. His mustache was singed off and so were his eyebrows,” she said. “Oh my gosh, I had never been through an explosion before.”
The two men hurt were taken for treatment to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Mercy Hospital. The car wash explosion is now under investigation by the local fire marshall.