By Thomas May
UNION SPRINGS, AL (WSFA) – A Nissan Pathfinder filled with inflated balloons exploded about 12:30 Sunday afternoon, March 20, 2011, injuring two persons.
Janice Broaden's vehicle had been filled with inflated balloons that were to be used at a baby shower. She had driven to the parking lot of the Nutrition Site and was outside her vehicle when the explosion occurred.
Mrs. Broaden was seriously injured in the explosion and is in UAB Hospital in Birmingham in intensive care suffering second degree burns, according to Investigator Louis Murry. She was taken via RCS Ambulance.
Ms. Elaine Taylor was standing a short distance away when the explosion occurred. She was taken to the Bullock County Hospital suffering with minor injuries. She was not hospitalized.
Chief Wheeler told the Herald the balloons had been filled and were inside the vehicle when the explosion took place. The vehicle was totaled from the explosion that was heard as far away as Martin Luther King Blvd, four blocks away. Others said it shook the ground about two blocks away.
Lt. Murry told the Herald that the balloons had been filled with pure oxygen instead of helium. The Herald was notified that a helium tank had exploded but later learned there was no helium tank in the vehicle. Lt. Murry said the vehicle exploded as Ms. Broaden was opening the door to the vehicle. He said the explosion was caused by over-heated oxygen.
Murry said he did not know why oxygen instead of helium was used. The state fire marshal's office is investigating the explosion.