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Bullethead

OT: I've Seen Fire and I've Seen Rain

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This morning about 0230, I got called out for a car on fire. At that time here, it was raining about as hard as physically possible. We got 4.25" of rain last night and I figure at least 3" fell during this incident. I literally couldn't see 15 feet without vehicle headlights and only about 30 feet with them.

 

The car wasn't badly on fire (no surprise, given the rain). Where it was burning was all under the hood on teh driver's side. That whole headlight area was gone and the front driver's tire was burning. The other headlight was on.

 

Anyway, we got the fire out pretty quick, pried open the hood (because the latch cable had burned away), and took the battery out. Given one headlight was totally incinerated and the other was on even though the switch was off and the key out of the car, I immediately suspected a headlight problem. We have a lot of car fires started by those HID headlights, especially where folks have retrofitted them to old cars like this one. But we soon discovered this car had regular halogens and burnt headlight couldn't have lit the tire on fire, so the fire had to have started lower. And the other headlight was on simply because a short occurred in the one that burned up.

 

It turned out the fire started down low near the driver's front wheel steering area. Apparently oil had been leaking there for some time and eventually it got hot enough to ignite. The car had just arrived home a few minutes before we got called, and exhaust pipes actually get hotter for a while after you stop the engine.

 

So the moral to the story is, if your car is leaking oil, get it fixed. Even a little leak can eventually result it in catching fire. And then I'll have to come out at 0230 in a monumental downpour and deal with it. I haven't quite dried out from that yet.

 

Oh, and don't retrofit your old car with HID headlights, either :).

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Never had theat problem as an Adult but as a Teen I did a no no. I had a 57 Ford 2 dr No reverse in the auto matic transmission. Some one said that if u pulled off the Breather it would sound like a Hot Rod. Long story short it caught fire out front of the my High School and I had to use dirt to put out the carburetor fire. I never did hear the end to that one. However, being 17 Lived passed it.

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Seems like every other time I was in Memphis I would pass a different burned out hulk on the side of the road...looked like the road warrior out there.

 

Funny, one time when I was a teenager, some friends and I were out and about in my car. My friend in the back says that his seat feels kind of warm...next thing is that smoke appears, smelling like an electrical short. We rapidly pull to the side of the road and bail out in short order. The car doesn't go up in flames, but after I cautiously go back to investigate, I lift the rear seat and find a rust hole in the floorboard that was right over the muffler. The heat had melted the seat's cushioning, and the speaker wires that were laying right over it had the insulation melted off...causing the short. Learned how to patch sheetmetal from that...

 

FC

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That's interesting how you modern firemen can really often trace back, where and how a fire started.

Like CSI for fires.

You must have got really soaked by that rainfall - is it at least warmer there in Lousy Anna, than it is here?

We only have 8° Celsius - not so good for being all soaked by heavy rain.

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Reminds me of an incident that happened to my wife one day....she saw a small wisp of smoke come from the dash...so pulled over, got out...and walked the 200yds to a phone booth to call me, to come have a look, and pick her up.

 

By the time she finished the call, and came out of the booth...the car was engulfed in flames!...the Fire Service arrived on the scene before I got there...and the car was just a shell.

 

I gave my wife a big hug that day!

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Bullethead,

 

Here in the DC area, we have about one of those car fires each week on I-95 (the main north-south highway into the city). I call them a Car-B-Q.

 

WM,

Lucky for your wife that she got out of that one. Amazing what some people will do to get insurance to pay for a new car :blowup: (just kidding)

 

I once had a Subaru XT Turbo with a functional hood scoop on it. I also had a pinhole leak from one of the water lines that was spraying onto the exhaust manifold. So every time I came to a stop, a huge cloud of white smoke erupted from the middle of the hood of the car. I got all kinds of worried looks every time I waited at a red light. Not dangerous, just incredibly embarassing/annoying.

 

 

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Seems like every other time I was in Memphis I would pass a different burned out hulk on the side of the road...looked like the road warrior out there

 

Back out '04, when fuel prices 1st jumped up, I was doing some over-the-road truckdriving. On a typical trip across the US, I'd see 1 or 2 burning trucks every day, sometimes more. Sometimes you could be passing 1 and see the smoke from the next in the distance. The cause of all these fires was friction. If you put your payment book, fuel receipts, and insurance policy in the same compartment, they'll rub together and start a fire :grin: ..

 

That's interesting how you modern firemen can really often trace back, where and how a fire started.

Like CSI for fires.

You must have got really soaked by that rainfall - is it at least warmer there in Lousy Anna, than it is here?

We only have 8° Celsius - not so good for being all soaked by heavy rain.

 

Fire investigation isn't a modern thing, at least in the US. In fact, we're under a legal obligation to investigate every fire. I suppose the state's interest is in catching arsonists, but our main interest is helping our employers (as in taxpayers). Insurance companies presume all fires are arson until an investigation shows otherwise, so won't pay the owner until they receive our report.

 

As to the weather, this year we really haven't had a winter. We've only had 2 or 3 freezing nights, and even then it was just before dawn. Hell, it's already been over 80^F several times this month, which is about 1 month early for that. All the flowers are blooming early, the bees are already swarming, etc. Very strange, considering it's snowed 3 of the last 5 years, often multiple times (which is quite rare here). Anyway, this storm was riding a cold front so it was about 55^F during the big rain.

 

I gave my wife a big hug that day!

 

Was that before or after you smacked her for not calling the fire department first? :grin:

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lol...yup BH....Hindsight is a wonderful thing

 

So which was it? Before or after?

 

I have another fire safety tip I was reminded of yesterday: Any good done by scented or "armoma therapy" candles is usually outweighed by the smell of wet ashes coming from where your home used to be.

 

It's amazing how many people think these candles have to live in nests and pile up colored gauze and dried leaves and flowers all around them. Or put them on top of a toilet tank or bathroom counter just below a towel rack. We get several fires a year started by such braindead things, the most recent yesterday.

 

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