Explosion at Grand Forks dealership caught on camera; ex-employee sentenced to prison

Jobe Jay Lunski, 26, of Ardoch was ordered to pay a total of $16,000 in restitution.
Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 6:33 PM CDT
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (Valley News Live) -Newly released video gives us an inside look on how a prank at a Grand Forks dealership led to a fireball explosion, causing an injury.

Jobe Jay Lunski, 26, was sentenced to prison last week and ordered to pay a total of $16,000 in restitution.

In May of 2019, Grand Forks emergency responders showed up to the Lithia Ford Lincoln dealership after Lunski lit a fire inside the garage.

Through an open records request, we obtained surveillance video from the dealership showing the blaze and body cam footage of the police interview with Lunski.

“That exploded dude,” a police officer told Lunski.

“I know,” Lunski responded.

“That was crazy,” the officer said.

Lunski was working at the dealership’s repair shop when the incident happened.

You can see him walking to the middle of the garage with a lighter in hand.

Lunski puts it to the ground where there’s gas and it quickly turns into a large flame burning him and creating a wall of fire that trapped two employees working on a vehicle.

“Honestly, a joke on somebody?” another officer asked Lunski.

He responded by saying, “a joke. That’s all I can say, I obviously did not intend to do what happened.”

One of the trapped employees managed to run through the flames while on fire, and then behind him, another employee came running also in flames.

Police said one of them was taken to the hospital with burns.

“Two guys were dumping out or they removed a gas tank from a vehicle back here…they’re letting it drain, which is not probably proper protocol,” the investigating officer said to another office on scene, explaining how the gas ended up on the floor.

Lunski was charged with endangerment by fire and sentenced last week to a year in prison with all but three months have his sentence suspended, according to the Grand Forks County State’s Attorney.

That means he’ll only serve three months in prison, but could be sentenced to the remaining nine months if he violates any of his release terms.

“His thing is that he was playing a joke because he didn’t think that it would light up. But , I mean, it lit up like, you know, a Christmas tree,” the investigating officer said.

This incident caused Lithia thousands of dollars in damages, and Lunski was ordered to pay the dealership $15,000 in restitution.

Lunski was ordered to pay the man he injured nearly $600.

We reached out to the Lithia dealership for comment, but did not hear back.

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