A teenage hairdresser was killed when her car exploded after fumes from a leaking bottle of hydrogen peroxide ignited as she lit a cigarette.
Tragic Jenny Mitchell, 19, was driving home from a visit to her fiance Russell Andrews, 21, when her silver Mini Cooper was engulfed in flames following a ”catastrophic explosion”.
It is believed that a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, used by stylists to bleach hair, leaked in her passenger footwell and ignited when she lit up.
The oxidizing capacity of hydrogen peroxide is so strong it is considered a ‘highly reactive’ and is used in rocketry as a propellant.
Jenny is survived by her fiance Russell, who she was due to marry next year, her parents Bob and Pauline Mitchell and brother Ashley, 22.
Bob, 49, and Pauline, 46, who live in Shaftesbury, Dorset, spoke out about the tragedy to warn other hairdressers of the dangers of hydrogen peroxide.
BT engineer Bob, who is also a retained firefighter, said: ”We think she probably had a bottle of hydrogen peroxide in the passenger-side footwell.
”What happened we will never know, but we believe the bottle of hydrogen peroxide was leaking inside her car and might have mixed with something which made it more dangerous.
”Jenny was a smoker and we believe she lit a cigarette, which caused an explosion.
”We want to warn hairdressers to treat chemicals with caution and ensure that they are not allowed to leak.
”We want to make them aware that a combination of things that they carry have the potential to react and go off like a bomb.”
The tragic accident occurred at around 9am on March 9 this year as Jenny was travelling home to Shaftesbury after visiting farmer Russell.
Jenny’s silver 2009 Mini Cooper was engulfed in flames as she drove along a B-road between Marnhull and Sturminster Newton, Dorset.
At an inquest into her death, which opened last week, the presiding coroner revealed that Jenny died as a result of a ”catastrophic explosion”.
It is believed the blast was caused by flammable chemicals she carried for her work as a mobile stylist with the Sleek and Chic salon in Blandford, Dorset.
Jenny’s mother Pauline revealed she was her ”best friend” as well as her daughter.
Pauline said: ”She loved hairdressing and she was a complete natural at it.
”As a teenager she would be the one who did everyone’s hair before they went out, and when she did her training in London they offered her a job up there.
”She didn’t want it, though, because she hated London – she loved the countryside and being on the farm.
”She had always wanted to be a hairdresser but when she met Russ she just wanted to be his wife and nothing else mattered. He is a lovely, fantastic boy.
”We were very close. It was like having a daughter and a best friend. She had total belief in herself and if she wanted to do something, she did it.”
Bob added: ”We had never seen Jenny in such a calm and happy frame of mind as she was since she met Russ.
”She was a beautiful girl and we have a lot of very happy memories of her.
”She was ambitious and at the age of 19 she had done well enough to get herself a silver 2009 Mini as she loved cars.
”She never let things get her down and she always had a smile on her face.
”Since the accident we have had so much support from friends and family and the house is full of cards. Our son has been our rock through this.”
Jenny’s funeral will be held at Yeovil Cemetery, Somerset, on March 30 with a reception at the Coppelridge Inn in Motcombe, Dorset, where she was due to marry Russell.
* Spilling high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide on a flammable substance can cause an immediate fire, which is further fueled by the oxygen released by the decomposing hydrogen peroxide.
High test peroxide, or HTP (also called high-strength peroxide) must be stored in a suitable, vented container to prevent the build up of oxygen gas, which would otherwise lead to the eventual rupture of the container.