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Old 09-10-2017, 11:16 PM
berntd berntd is offline
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: New South Wales Australia
Posts: 75
Default Workshop fire on weekend. Be warned!


I was curtting sheet metal with my angle grinder in my workshop at the bench.

Minutes later I smelled a wood fire kinda smell but saw nothing. I thought it was hazard reduction burning going on outside by the bushfire brigade - which there actually was.

A bit later, i noiced a haze in the workshop and immediatly knew that I have a problem.

The room filled with smoke, from the top down as I was desperately looking for the source.

I always have an extinguisher and a bucket of water ready right nerxt to the bench for these sort of issues.

I was not able to find the source of the smoke. It just got denser by the seconds. I started getting desperate and pulled stuff from the bench and out of the shelves onto the floor.

Nothing. I then sloshed water from the bucket around in the hope of achiving something but still nothing.

I then thought I will drowse / sprinkle the whole shop in water so I ran outside to get a hose and I connected it to my rainwater tank and switched on the pump, ready to run back in with the hose and start watering.

The damn pump would not start. It just sat there buzzing!!!

At that moment I realised that this workshop and shed are likely to burn down so I dashed off to the house to call the firebrigade.

For some reason, they tried to keep me on the line and asked how am I doing etc. I had to pull myself away and try and at least do something.

I went back in a last time to see if I can start salvaging something. The place was pretty full with smoke and stank terribly.

Then, I saw flames going up the plywood on an unrelated bench in the far corner of the workshop.

Pumping with adrenalin, I ran back out and filled my bucket with water from the backyard swimming pool. Thank god for that pool!!

I extinguished it just as the firebrigade arrived.

Far out, that was really close!!!

It was a rag that smouldered and eventually set the workbench top and wall on fire.

I have no idea why the rag cought alight as it is quite far from the bench and I tested it yesterday, only very few angle grinder sparks can land there.

It was not an oily rag but just an old dry rag.

I am prepaped for stuff like this as fires do happen occasionally when welding in cars etc but what's the use one canno find the source.

I now can't work in the shop properly because the smell lingers and every time I grind something, I keep thinking it is burning somehwere again.

I am having mental trouble believing that this rag could be set alight at such a distance and with only a very few sparks dropping down onto it. It was behind a bench grinder (out of view) so no direct path for the sparks to even get there.

Lessons learned?
1) In case of a fire, the usually reliable equipment like hose, pump etc. may not work.
2) It is a lost cause if one cannot find the source of the fire.
3) Do not build a workshop out of timber or at least add cladding or coatings (paint?) that is not flammable.
4) Keep ALL rags in a box with a lid or cover. Do not leave them lying anywhere. And I mean anywhere!
5) Who knows??

Who else has had this sort of thing happen?
Best regards
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