A Volkswagen dealership employee was taken to a hospital in Seattle after an explosion in the store’s designated smoking area, firefighters said.
The Volkswagen of Kirkland employee was burned, but conscious when taken to a local hospital around 6 p.m. local time Monday, according to Kirkland Fire Battalion Chief Seth Buchanan.
The Kirkland, Wash., fire department said the dealership’s smoking area is next to 55-gallon containers that were empty at the time but were previously filled with flammable liquid. The employee was vaping in that area when the explosion occurred, according to a news release from Kirkland Fire.
“We believe that it flashed, so the fire in the container was immediately out. It was just a flammable gas, but it kind of exploded and blew up a 55-gallon drum and, unfortunately, it was the patient that caught on fire,” Buchanan said.
The resulting explosion caught the employee’s clothes, hair, hands and face on fire, Buchanan told Automotive News.
The fire remains under investigation, Buchanan said.
Investigators suspect the vape’s electronic heater, which creates the vapor, contributed to the fire’s ignition, Buchanan said.
No damage was reported at the business, the release said.
Volkswagen of Kirkland did not respond to a request for comment.