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Posted at 3:41 PM ET, 01/11/2011

BMW explodes in Arlington

By Allison Klein
Allison Klein

The trunk of an unoccupied BMW exploded in Arlington Tuesday morning, officials said.

The car was parked on the street in a residential neighborhood in the 2100 block of South 9th Street at about 8:30 a.m. when the back of it ignited, said Lt. Ed Hughes, a spokesman for the Arlington fire department. Nobody was injured.

Fire investigators are still looking into the incident, Hughes said Tuesday afternoon, but it appears accidental.

The explosion appears to have been caused by a tank of acetylene that had been stored in the trunk, said Hughes.

"We're leaning toward that," he said.

Detective Crystal Nosal, a spokeswoman for the Arlington police, also said the explosion was "probably" an accident.

Investigators used bomb-sniffing dogs to check the neighborhood and ensured that there were no other explosives in the area. County bomb squad investigators were working with the ATF, Hughes said.

The initial 911 call was for a vehicle fire, Hughes said, but when firefighters got to the scene, they did not find any flames. The incident was first reported by ARLnow.

This item has been updated since it was first published.

By Allison Klein  | January 11, 2011; 3:41 PM ET
Categories:  Allison Klein, Arlington  
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I love that there is a BMW ad next to this article...

Posted by: bmp246 | January 11, 2011 10:54 AM | Report abuse

The car in the Capitol Hill incident yesterday looked like a BMW as well. Could there be some vehicle related problem?

Posted by: blankspace | January 11, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Wonder who it belonged to.

If it was a lobbyist type, it would be very suspicious.

Posted by: postfan1 | January 11, 2011 11:23 AM | Report abuse

There seems to be a problem with BMWs this week. On Sunday, I noticed three that could not stop at stop signs or stop lights. Oh wait, that was the narcissists driving them.

Posted by: CalmTruth | January 11, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Well, put me in a Pinto and back me into a telephone pole.

Posted by: JoStalin | January 11, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I was thinking the same thing...when did BMW revive production of the Pinto?

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | January 11, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

i thought it was just another German car backfiring...

Posted by: destewar | January 11, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

The car that caught on fire in Capitol Hill yesterday was also a BMW according to the photos. This is strange!

Posted by: Canton55 | January 11, 2011 12:37 PM | Report abuse

...just like eating peanut butter (and didn't know about allergies), chasing after the mosquito truck, I survived five years driving a Pinto! (but look at me now!)

Posted by: 141stvb | January 11, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse

What's the difference between a porcupine and a BMW?
The porcupine has pricks on the outside, the BMW has them on the inside.

Posted by: bluestilton | January 11, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Coincidence? I never before heard of a BMW catching fire without explanation and twice in two days we have had fires. First, the young mother of three who died yesterday in her BMW that was found on fire in her DC garage. Today, a BMW bursts into flames on the streets of NO.VA?

Posted by: MdLaw | January 11, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

See the pic at ARLnow. The blast destroyed the entire back end of the car but didn't set the gas tank on fire. Looks like a car bomb. Nothing like Monday's fire on Capitol Hill.

Posted by: blasmaic | January 11, 2011 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Two things will be determined quickly in the Capitol Hill fire and death...One is cause of death and cause of the auto fire...Even if the lady had an medical emergency that would not cause a fire and if there was no medical problem then why didn't she exit the burning auto???

This is not just the case of an accidental death by any means but considering her status and job connection involving millions of dollars recently, I would not be surprised if this were a killing to quiet her for some reason....

Posted by: pentagon40 | January 11, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

The article states that trhere was an acetylene tank in the trunk. Acetylene is unstable under pressure and must be combined with acetone to allow it to be pressurized. If the plumber left the regulator on the tank instead of removing it and closing the tank valve, and then loaded the tank in the trunk so that it was, or could end up being, on its side instead of being vertical (very likely given that it was place in the trunk) then the tank could esily roll around a bit and the adjustable valve on the regulator could easily be opened slightly to allow eithe the acetylene gas or the acetone or both to leak out. A tiny bit of static electricity could easily set it off. I doubt that there is anything beyond carelessness that accounts for the explosion.

Posted by: Arlington4 | January 11, 2011 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Love the new style of news delivery that's so popular both at WaPo & so many other 'mainstream' outlets.

1.) Sensational headline/Breaking News: (BMW Explodes! Egads!), accompanied by some 9th grader's Twitter feed instead of a news story. Typically incomplete and released as a rough draft with NO greasy pen editor being involved whatsoever.

2.) Online comments follow and reactions mix utter confusion (oooh are BMW's safe?!?) with completely unfounded conclusions (O fer gawd sake, why hasn't the gubmint recalled these yet??).

3.) UPDATE appears 3 hours after initial post and the scary 'news story' deflates back to a non event.

'Oh, the ACETYLENE TANK some dolt stuffed in the car's trunk exploded? Still, I'd better trade in my Beemer for a SmarTrip card just to be safe... '

Posted by: TonyManero | January 11, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

TonyManero is 100% on point.

Posted by: nonagon | January 11, 2011 4:50 PM | Report abuse

So now a trunk is an explosive device? Oh...I see. An acetylene tank IN THE TRUNK may have exploded.

WaPo continues to lower the bar on the use of language.

Posted by: GaryJean | January 11, 2011 4:56 PM | Report abuse

calm down need for's just one of the new "M4" prototype using acetylene for more HP

Posted by: awoo200888 | January 11, 2011 10:21 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: awoo200888 | January 11, 2011 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Klein, did Detective Nosal make quote marks in the air, Dr. Evil style, when she said the word "probably" to the press? Is there any other reason you would single that one word out for quotation marks, rather than the entire, um, quote? Are there still editors at the Post?

Posted by: MBP1 | January 11, 2011 10:33 PM | Report abuse

BMW-the ultimate exploding machine.

Posted by: wisner1 | January 12, 2011 1:20 AM | Report abuse

The car in the Capitol Hill incident yesterday looked like a BMW as well. Could there be some vehicle related problem?

Posted by: blankspace | January 11, 2011 11:02 AM


It makes you wonder. There was a BMW exploding in Georgia recently. And then one in 2008 caught fire. Yet, I have not seen a MSM story about BMWs and fires.

Posted by: sugarstreet | January 12, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Do you dislike BMW drivers because you are jealous they have accomplished something in their life?

Posted by: CALM116 | January 12, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

You just can't fix stupid.

Posted by: slim21 | January 12, 2011 2:41 PM | Report abuse

BMWs are popular in the DC Metro Area. The driver should pay the firemen and cops for their time.

Posted by: jercha | January 12, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

"Do you dislike BMW drivers because you are jealous they have accomplished something in their life?"

Driving a BMW is accomplishing something?

Posted by: BEEPEE | January 12, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

I'd been waiting for Mike Shanahan's face to do he same thing!

Posted by: kinkysr | January 12, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse

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