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Propane fire at Encinitas gas station destroys 'dream van'

By Michael Chen,


ENCINITAS, Calif. (KGTV) - In a span of minutes, a couple living the nomad life saw their dream trip go up in flames at a gas station in Encinitas.

After meeting fellow nomad Isabella Krasnosky less than a month ago at a music festival, Julien Marotte invited her for a west coast trip in his newly bought 1999 Volkswagen Eurovan.

The couple stayed in Tijuana for a week, restoring the van.

“Big paint job. Whole windows redone. Complete detailing,” said Marotte. “We put new carpets and got curtains.”

Excited, the couple crossed into San Diego last Tuesday to begin their adventure.

They pulled into a gas station in Encinitas to fill up their mounted propane tank, which they used for cooking and heat.

Marotte says as the clerk finished filling up the tank, mounted on the driver's side, this happened.

“When he tried to disconnect, there was so much pressure, and there was propane coming out. It was like this big jet of propane,” said Marotte.

Marotte says not long after, flames sparked.

“Then it started catching on fire. The jet was a flame thrower,” said Marotte.

Krasnosky was sitting in the passenger seat.

“I saw flames outside the window on the other side. I freaked out and ran out of the car,” said Krasnosky.

“A big whiff, like a smaller explosion … when that whiff came, everything started burning.” Said Marotte.

The fire burned intensely, before fire crews arrived and put it out. Three other vehicles parked nearby were also damaged.

As for the camper van, everything was destroyed, including Krasnosky’s laptop and all of Marotte's belongings. Marotte says he had not yet purchased comprehensive insurance and had only liability.

A GoFundMe campaign has been started to help the couple with expenses.

“I was almost crying, all this energy into project … My dream van basically got burned just by going to the gas station,” said Marotte.

A manager at the Valero station says his employee did nothing wrong and believes something in the van sparked the flame.

Marotte says the van was in perfect condition and says he plans legal action against the gas station.

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