Wyoming Detailer Who Cleaned Bear Sprayed Truck Says It’ll Never Be The Same

When a Yellowstone worker had a canister of bear spray explode in his truck, Terry Jesse, owner of TJ’s Clean and Shine in Cody, gave himself the unenviable task of detailing the truck to get rid of the noxious aftermath.

While the can blasted out the windshield from where it was laying on the top of the truck’s dashboard, it left an invisible cloud of repellant that Jesse said he could feel on his skin just by reaching inside.

The experienced auto detailer said he could see and feel just how much work would be needed to eliminate the caustic aerosol from the truck’s cab.

“I could feel it myself, and that's just from sitting down,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “The spray went into the fabric and foam in the seat. There's no way to get that out of there.”

Nevertheless, after eight hours of detailing, Jesse said he’s removed 90% of the bear spray from the vehicle’s interior. Driving the truck in the future will be a little itchy, but it's still drivable.

“The owner’s going to feel it sometimes,” he said. “His skin’s going to itch, especially when it warms up in summer. You have to be honest with them, and there’s no way to get it all out.”

Vinegar Beats Pepper Spray

Despite the small yet permanent presence of bear spray inside the truck, Jesse said the owner got off lucky. When the canister exploded, it left only a fine mist of aerosol in the interior.

“There were big droplets that burned into the vinyl on the dash, but there was just a fine mist that covered the inside,” he said. “He got pretty lucky.”

Jesse’s solution for cleaning the spray-soaked interior was “relatively simple.” He soaked microfiber cloths and towels with vinegar and spread them across every surface to soak up the spray.

“If you spray anything on it, using a spray bottle or a steamer, it gets airborne,” he said. “Then it's everywhere and all over you.”

Clearing the vents of bear spray was more difficult. So, Jesse filled one of his steamers with vinegar and fogged the vents as much as he could.

To keep himself safe, Jesse wore a respirator, goggles, nitrile gloves and a Tyvek coverall suit. Although the work was arduous, Jesse didn’t have to dismantle any part of the truck to get it done.

“The worst part was, like, the inside of the driver's side window,” he said. “But we used the same process and got it done.”

A can of bear spray was sitting in this nook in the front window dash of this truck when it exploded. The windshield has since been replaced, but the detailer cleaning it out says it'll never be the same inside the truck. (TJ's Clean and Shine)

Explosive Power

The bear spray canister was sitting on the truck's dashboard when it exploded. Even though it wasn’t a particularly hot day, the explosion was powerful enough to burst through the windshield and launch at least 100 feet away from the truck.

When Jesse picked up the truck, the damage was evident.

“I went over and inspected it to see if I even wanted to take the job,” he said. “There were actually two holes in the windshield. I assume it was a large canister, and it definitely went through the glass.”

Tim Lynch, general manager of UDAP Pepper Power in Butte, Montana, said it doesn’t need to be especially hot for a bear spray canister to rupture. In this instance, location was everything.

“Do not store a bear spray canister in direct sunlight or a hot vehicle,” he said. “It says that on our packaging and on the can itself.”

Lynch explained that what happened to the bear spray canister isn’t unique. All aerosols have explosive potential in the same conditions.

“It's all aerosols, not just bear spray,” he said. “‘MythBusters’ showed how hot it gets in a shut-up vehicle. Even when it's just 70 degrees, it can get to 140 degrees in your car. When a car’s all shut up, it starts heating up.”

Lynch believes many underestimate the power of all aerosols, particularly bear spray. If they read the full label, they’d know to keep bear spray off their dashboards and out of direct sunlight.

“The windshield can act like a magnifying glass,” he said. “The cans can handle certain temperatures, but not sitting on a dark dashboard underneath the windshield in direct sunlight.”

Jesse agreed that proper handling of bear spray is essential. After examining the truck, he recognized the potential severity of the circumstances.

“I told the owner I was glad he wasn’t in there,” he said. “That could have been very fatal.”

Certain Procedures

Bear spray safety is no secret. Lynch said UDAP sells several products that significantly reduce the risk of ruptured bear spray, but common sense is the best deterrent.

“We sell an aerosol safety case that helps resist heat,” he said. “That’s what the U.S. Forest Service uses. You can also put it in a cooler when traveling in your car, although it's not usually an issue. People don't like it hot either.”

Placement is everything. Lynch said bear spray is best kept in spots where the sun doesn’t shine.

“You must keep it out of the sun, not in a spot where the sun can be shining right through a window directly on it,” he said. “And definitely keep it off the dash.”

Meanwhile, Jesse knows enough about the obvious places for bear spray to discourage them. His homespun solution is a sealed container and the cool dark under a seat.

“Most people carry bear spray in the pocket of their doors or something like that,” he said. “And I tell everyone to get a lockable container, like a Tupperware or something, and put it underneath your seat somewhere out of the sun.”

Of course, the simplest solution is reading the label. Lynch believes explosions could be prevented by further reading.

“The first thing the label says is, ‘Read the entire label upon purchase,’” he said. An explosion “doesn’t happen very often, but it can happen, and certain precautions must be taken.”

A can of bear spray exploded in a vehicle in an employee lot at Yellowstone National Park, blowing through the windshield and launching about 200 feet.A can of bear spray exploded in a vehicle in an employee lot at Yellowstone National Park, blowing through the windshield and launching about 200 feet. (From X, Formerly Twitter)

Total Loss

Jesse said he has cleaned nine bear-sprayed vehicles in his career. Comparatively, this recent detailing was “a little easier” than the others.

“Five or six years ago, a canister blew up in a smaller SUV,” he said. “The whole interior of that vehicle was the yellow-orange color of bear spray. It was everywhere.”

Despite the damage, Jesse said he attempted to detail the vehicle. After a few days, the owner decided it wasn’t worth it.

“We worked with the insurance company for a couple of days here, but we gave up,” she said. “There was $17,000 damage in there, so they totaled it.”

This truck wasn’t totaled and has since been returned to its owner. The windshield’s been replaced, and the bear spray is mostly gone, excluding a residual itch.

Jesse hopes the notoriety of the exploding bear spray will serve as a precautionary tale for future Yellowstone visitors. The owner’s truck might be back on the road, but it’ll carry memories of the incident for the rest of its existence.

“There's no way to get it all out of there,” he said. “It soaks into the fabric, the vents and the headliner. I can completely redo or get it out of there, but you have to tear the insides completely out and start over. And that's a pretty expensive job.”

Andrew Rossi can be reached at [email protected].


Copyright © 2024 FastTowing247.com. All Rights Reserved.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram