The Accident Analysis Group has been reconstructing kerosene heater fires for nearly 20 years. In the early 1980's during the keroheater flare-up scare, Dr. Pesuit's work for a Hartford insurer showed that the wicks on Kerosun's bottom-fed heaters were flaring up. Their wicks were overflowing and causing flare-ups because insufficient volume had been set aside to allow for kerosene expansion when the kerosene was stored in the cold outdoors.

Most of the Kerosun heaters are no longer in service, but kerosene heaters still flare up with regularity. When a new case arrives, we compare it with a database documenting more than 400 flare-ups. We often follow this with tests using computer based monitoring equipment. In one recent case, which these computer drawings illustrate, a person was seriously burned while refilling a hot heater. Contaminated, flammable kerosene vapor was drawn with incoming air into the wick area, where it ignited and flashed back to the fuel can.