A college student was pumping gas into his sports utility vehicle near New Paltz, N.Y., recently when he flipped open his cell phone to answer a call, and suddenly found himself surrounded by flames.

“The next thing you know, he said, he saw this big ball of fire,” New Paltz Fire Chief Patrick Koch said. A worker triggered the emergency fire suppression system, which put out the fire, and SUNY New Paltz student Matthew Erhorn received only minor burns, though his phone was charred by the flames.

Firefighters concluded Erhorn’s cell phone ignited vapors coming from the car’s fuel tank as it was being filled.

“Cell phones can ignite gas fumes coming from the pump and cause a disaster,” said Koch after the incident

But are the nation’s 158 million cell phone users at risk if they don’t hang up while they fill up their gas tanks? Although signs at gas stations warn against cell phone use, experts and a Good Morning America experiment cast doubt on the theory that cell phones can cause fires at the gas pump.

More here.