Electrical Fire

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by Mumbles Mumbles 6 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • Mumbles
    Mumbles
    Canada Member - 2 Years
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    #6687

    A friend had his large boat plugged into shore power coming from the small barn on his property. A ceramic heater runs constantly in the boat to keep mildew and moisture away but yesterday he got more than he bargained for. As he was pulling out of his driveway, he noticed some white smoke coming out of the workshop door in the barn and as he got closer it turned black. He opened the door and flames were climbing up the wall so he grabbed the garden hose and managed to put the fire out before it got away on him. Kiln dried wood is stored upstairs and big fir trees droop over the building so it could have been a lot worse than what it was.

    Gasoline, oil, paint and other flammables are stored in the shop and he figures the heavy cord going to the boat or the receptacle it was plugged into failed, causing the fire. Plastic tool handles on the bench melted and several spray bombs had the tops blown off them from the heat. If the gasoline had caught fire, he wouldn’t have been able to get the fire under control and would have probably lost the barn, another nearby building, several Douglas fir trees and possibly the boat itself.

    Just a reminder to make sure your extension cords and shop wiring are in good shape and up to code and always use a GFI equipped outlet when using household power outside.


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    PugetSoundBoater
    US Member - 2 Years
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    #55663

    Even though he had a fire ,he was lucky in a way. Could have lost everything.

    "Some people want to know how a watch works, others just want to know what time it is"
    Robbie Robertson

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    adam1961
    Canada Member - 2 Years
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    #55665

    Fire is a scary thing when you consider the number of possible causes and the damage that it does. It looks like he had aluminium wire to the receptacle (maybe its copper and discolored from the fire??). If it is aluminium, I would be inclined to check other devices in the shop for signs of corrosion or arcing on the terminals.

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    fleetwin
    US Member - 2 Years
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    #55886

    Yipes! All in all, it was fortunate he was home, and amazing that he got it out with a garden hose….
    A good lesson for all of us for sure

    Mumbles
    Mumbles
    Canada Member - 2 Years
    Replies: 4185
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    #55904

    I was talking to him yesterday about it and while cleaning up the damage he noticed the fire had gotten inside the walls and had started to burn the ceiling joists. It was seconds away from becoming an inferno! He says it’s copper wire and not the problematic aluminum stuff which was popular in the 70’s. I’ll double check that as I have to go over soon and do a compression test on the boat which is going up for sale.

    If the cause was a short, I’m still wondering why the breaker didn’t trip.

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    adam1961
    Canada Member - 2 Years
    Replies: 367
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    #55911

    My understanding with the ALU conductors is that over time, corrosion results form the wire and terminals being dissimilar metals. Apparently they also sometimes come loose over time. Our electrical contractor here at work indicated that most of the fires result from heat build up and arcing, not an actual short. Our older industrial buildings still have lots of AL wire. They tell us to keep an eye on it and use anti-ox past on the terminals.

    This may not be the case at all in your friends case….

    Mumbles
    Mumbles
    Canada Member - 2 Years
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    #55912

    I was just over there and it is copper wire. He figures the receptacle might have failed and not the cord. The white drywall ceiling is black now from the fire and he likes it. He says he’ll repair the wall but might leave the ceiling flat black. I think it’s closer to Charcoal Black.

    The poor guy is having a string of bad luck lately. First the fire, now the compression readings of the 5.7 liter in the boat he wants to sell. They range from 161 PSI down to 11. The motor is tired. 😥

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    jeff-register
    US Member - 1 Year
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    #68689

    Jim,
    With you, Very seldom the inspectors caught much, Industrial ele was triple checked, before energising & then had a dear friend destroyed by 41,600 auto trans failure blew A 50kVA 600VAC SERVICE SECTION, Ever fix electrical that pumps sewege, Oh yea been there done that 😉 !

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    jeff-register
    US Member - 1 Year
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    #169753

    Jim,
    When I retired from electrical, Believe it or not aluminum branch circuits are still allowed in the national Electric Code book. That publication is written by National Fire protection Book. To go a little further most contractors Use the spring connectors, not the terminating screws. I personally have repaired many of these terminations. The old recepts had a place for 4 hot & 4 neutral spring terminations. These are a accident waiting to happen. The E-box should have all wires connected by a wire nut so the load does not go thru the recept, just the load for it only. As far as aluminum branch wiring there are devices (plugs & switches) designed for aluminum wire, but cost more SO many use the wrong devices. To add to the issues because aluminum has less density so the expansion & contraction rate is faster, So needs more maintenance to keep tight connections.
    I also have repaired aluminum service entrance cables ( for air conditioners & stoves #6 & bigger) that has blown in half with no splices from the circuit breaker to the air conditioner & that’s after the 60’s new & improved alloy of aluminum! But no worries, ALL our hi voltage transmission lines are aluminum wire with a steel traveler.
    Copper wire will not keep a good connection if the “quick Click” spring terminations are used. Once hot they lose spring tension it’s all over as your friend experienced!!
    In a shop I would use 20 amp recepts & not the 15 amp. The ID is the 20 amp have a slot going sideways, not to be confused with both slots going sideways witch is 220 Volt @ 20 amp recept.
    Had a neighbor stealing power from my outside recept. I rolled over the white wire over to a ckt breaker & now 220 volt. Run your buffer on that you sourdough thief!!!!
    Jeff

    • This reply was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by Avatar jeff-register.
    • This reply was modified 6 months, 3 weeks ago by Avatar jeff-register.
    Mumbles
    Mumbles
    Canada Member - 2 Years
    Replies: 4185
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    #169762

    Jim,

    I rolled over the white wire over to a ckt breaker & now 220 volt.

    Jeff

    Attaboy Jeff!! Good trick! ☺

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