EXCLUSIVE: Garage owner lucky to be alive after empty oil drum explodes

PUBLISHED: 13:26 05 January 2009 | UPDATED: 08:48 02 June 2010

(Multiple values)john claxton who was injured at his garage.
son Johnny Claxton looks at the damaged oil drum

(Multiple values)john claxton who was injured at his garage. son Johnny Claxton looks at the damaged oil drum

A GARAGE owner is in hospital with head injuries after an empty oil drum exploded as he tried to cut the lid off. John Claxton, owner of The Garage in Wisbech Road, March, was using an angle grinder to remove the top of the drum when it blew up in his fac

(Multiple values)john claxton who was injured at his garage.
son Johnny Claxton looks at the damaged oil drum

A GARAGE owner is in hospital with head injuries after an empty oil drum exploded as he tried to cut the lid off.

John Claxton, owner of The Garage in Wisbech Road, March, was using an angle grinder to remove the top of the drum when it blew up in his face.

Mr Claxton, 51, of Terrington St Clement, lost two front teeth and has a serious cut to his forehead, and has been taken to Peterborough District Hospital.

His son Johnny said: "He is very lucky. The cut is about an inch above his eye but he found his two front teeth afterwards and wants to get them put back in.

(Multiple values)john claxton who was injured at his garage.
son Johnny Claxton looks at the damaged oil drum

"Someone will be picking him up from hospital later and he will most likely come back to work."

Mr Claxton was cutting the top off the empty 45-gallon barrel to use it as a scrap metal bin.

The accident happened at the front of the garage at about 10am. The force of the explosion smashed a window at the back of the workshop and shook the foundations of the garage.

Johnny said: "He got up afterwards and told us to get the drum outside. I told him to sit down and relax.

"I was meant to do it but I've hurt my leg on a skiing trip and stayed in the office instead.

"He was using a grinding disc at the time which is quite fortunate - if he was using a cutting disc it could have gone through his skull."

The Garage, which opened for business in September, remained open while emergency services treated Mr Claxton - with five customers calling to book MOTs during the incident.

Fire crews from March Fire Station, across the road from The Garage, provided first aid before ambulance crews arrived.

Andy Dunlop, station manager for the fire service, said: “We would recommend that people don’t try to cut containers which have been used to hold flammable substances such as oil.

“This is because the cutting process creates sparks, which will ignite any remaining fluid inside and could easily cause an explosion, causing injury or even death.

“We would recommend that residents don’t try to use these containers, but if they do, please make sure that container has been thoroughly cleaned out and well vented. A general rule of thumb is - if it still smells flammable, then it almost certainly is.”


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