Family Escapes Just Before Camper Explodes Thanks to Faulty Propane Regulator


In the early afternoon on a recent Friday, Trent Tomanek embarked on a final inspection of his Jayco camper trailer, all set to journey towards Jackfish Lake. As he did so, an abnormal sound caught his attention.

“There was a strange ‘whoof’ noise,” Tomanek recounts, “Suddenly followed by an explosion. The whole assembly behind the refrigerator blasted apart, with the gas generating a fiery jet that shot through the camper’s side and roof, producing a flame around 15 feet long.”

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In response to the incipient firestorm, Tomanek sprinted towards his truck, which was already tethered to the RV. He swiftly ordered his wife and two children to relocate to a safer distance before rushing back to uncouple the truck, urgently maneuvering it out of danger.

When he returned, intending to rescue any salvageable personal effects from the perilous situation, the sight that met his eyes only intensified his alarm. The refrigerator was now a fountain of fire, with the growing flames reaching towards the roof vents and rendering any possibility of penetration into the camper impossible. Fueled by his fear of the spreading fire, Tomanek disengaged the propane tanks from the trailer and towed it safely away from potential hazards.

“With unsettling speed, within 15 minutes,” he muses somberly, “it was nothing more than a charred skeleton.”

The sight of his own camper, a testament to numerous beloved family adventures, engulfed in consuming flames seemed surreal to Tomanek, who served as a firefighter in the past. “It was more than merely watching a camper and our possessions being devoured by the fire,” he explained, “it puts it puts a perspective on the value of the memories that were created within those metal walls.”

In the wake of the devastating event, Tomanek turned to social media for solace and support. Surprisingly, he was soon inundated with sympathetic messages from other Jayco owners who had experienced similar calamities.

During his online exploration, Tomanek uncovered that his 2020 Jayco Jay Flight camper was included in a recall announcement pertaining to a faulty propane regulator. According to the document published on Transport Canada’s website, a malfunctioning propane regulator can result in high-pressure propane reaching the appliances in the vehicle, elevating the risk of a potential fire.

Transport Canada confirmed an ongoing investigation centered on these propane regulator failures, inviting anyone who faced similar issues to report it promptly. The disturbing realization dawned upon Tomanek that the fire had been ignited as he disconnected the trailer, setting the refrigerator’s switch from electric to propane power.

Facing the bitter reality of the destruction, he wondered about what could have happened. He couldn’t shake the thought of the possibility of such a fire igniting while they were all asleep during camping, a mere power failure triggering the gas power, with grave consequences.

Despite the pressing danger of the faulty propane regulator, Tomanek claims he never received any notification about the recall – a message he certainly wouldn’t disregard. He reached out to Jayco, who confirmed the recall and assured him of their collaboration once they received word from his insurance company. Unfortunately, further details were withheld until then.

While his insurance covers the tangible value of the lost property, the emotional toll extracted by the accident remains severely uncompensated. Tomanek and his family are deeply affected, with his children finding rest elusive as the frightening event haunts their dreams.

His little toddler, who used to play with trucks in their basement daily, now only plays with trucks that are on fire. And it was heart-wrenching to watch him reenact the horrifying incident, repeatedly making one truck tug another that’s ablaze: a haunting reminder of what happened that day.

In the aftermath, Tomanek urges other camper and RV owners to diligently scrutinize their vehicles as camping season draws to a close. “After such an experience,” he concludes, “I’d advice every Jayco owner to proactively check for potential recalls, thereby preempting the likelihood of a similar catastrophe.”