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House Fire

"A home in a neighboring community contained a biodiesel processor and storage area in the garage. A fire occurred in the home during the night. When the biodiesel and other liquids became involved in fire, the resulting fireball was so intense, that the fire destroyed the home in the matter of minutes:"








 
Location: ลึก ประเทศอินเดีย | Registered: March 03, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Follow the link, and near the bottom there is a lengthy write up on biodiesel (clik through) and it's safety concerns; all stuff we have been harping on here for some time now.
It's a worthy article that should be read by all IMO.



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Location: :-) Great White North eh ? | Registered: December 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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An excellent warning for all of us. I wonder what the cause (ignition point) of the fire was though? My impression was the article 'seemed to' indicate that it started elsewhere and eventually spread to the processor. Best wishes for the residents.
 
Registered: February 19, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hello Rydogg

The same thing crossed my mind.
If you look at the first photo, it appears the fire started in or near the garage.






 
Location: ลึก ประเทศอินเดีย | Registered: March 03, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I just know I'm going to get my head chewed off for saying this, but I think that there should be federal law against having a reactor in any structure attached to a residential dwelling. Outbuildings ONLY.

If you dissagree, take a good look at the house in the photos and ask yourself how long it would take a couple of groggy confused parents to run around gathering terrified kids from the bedrooms. Of course anyone in a wheelchair wouldn't stand much chance of escape, would they? Would you want your single friend relative to rent a basement suite in a house like this?

Huge sheets of flame are gushing out of the doors and windows. The heat is so intense, the plastic siding is melting outside. Anyone still inside there would wish they were dead already.
 
Registered: September 26, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If you look at the first photo
it appears that the fire is mainly in the garage door and window above it at the lower left of the house.
In the second photo the fire is no longer in the garage door. I suspect this is because the garage door is open and acting like a chimney with the air being sucked into the garage and drawing the fire back into the house.






 
Location: ลึก ประเทศอินเดีย | Registered: March 03, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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Thanks Tilly,

A very good reason for anyone involved in making biofuels to GET IT OUT OF THE HOUSE! because, whether the fire begins in the processing area or not, most extinguishing methods readily available to the average homeowner are just not sufficient to arrest a fire if it spreads to the processor.


Regards,
Keith

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Location: Whiteville, NC | Registered: March 11, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Maybe I'm wrong but I thought it was code everywhere that there be a firewall between the home and the garage space.

As I understand it, the firewall is supposed to be good for 20 minutes or something like that?

If true, that means the home was already destroyed by the fire and someone just wants to drag the biodiesel processor into the story.

Or am I mistaken about the firewall thing?


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Registered: March 09, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
I just know I'm going to get my head chewed off for saying this, but I think that there should be federal law against having a reactor in any structure attached to a residential dwelling. Outbuildings ONLY.


I could not agree more. THe nly problem with a federal law is now they know you are producing bio......

I totaly agree that any processor should be way, way away from the house and if you do not have the land to do that, then don't produce bio.


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Location: New Hampshire | Registered: January 27, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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My building that I make my biodiesel in is 150' behind my house. Never a good idea making it in an attached garage. State Farm told me the same thing that it would be a problem covering an insurance claim if it was in my attached garage but would cover it if my building burned down due to biodiesel.
 
Registered: December 02, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
GET IT OUT OF THE HOUSE!


I find it hard to believe this even has to be expressed...hasn't everybody read the warnings? Would you really do this in a building attached to your house?

I think you can't, or shouldn't even try to, legislate for the stupidest 1%...ya just gotta let em' kill themselves and pray they don't take anybody else out with them.

Examples right off the top of my head where there are laws to protect the stupidest 1%;

Seatbelt laws
Smoking laws

If you don't realize the danger WITHOUT having to have a law to tell you not too...why even bother?
 
Location: Southern WI, USA | Registered: May 18, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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You know, this is actually a point I agree on. I really don't think Biodiesel should be made in a garage attached to your home.

I've NEVER made Biodiesel in my own garage. I'm just not willing to do it. It's always been in a building unattached to the garage or in a warehouse somewhere.

Granted, you can have the safest equipment in the world, but if something goes wrong, we're messing with methanol, oil, and heat to make FUEL (you know, stuff that'll burn).

I fully agree. If at all possible, produce your brew in an unattached building from your house. It's just not worth the risk in my mind.

-Graydon




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Location: Utah | Registered: October 08, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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Also, I don't think the firewall thing holds true in Utah. There's several attached garages that are below the dwelling space as well as attics above that have no "firewall".

My garage is attached to the house and besides 2 X 4's & insulation, there's nothing between it & my house. The attic attaches everything & the fire would just shoot up into the attic & move into the house.

When I was a kid in the neighborhood I grew up in there was an arsonist that used to get his jollies by burning peoples houses to the ground on Saturday nights. He'd start the fires around 11PM too.

He successfully burned 7 homes in our neighborhood & 2 of them he burned twice before they finally caught the SOB (he tried to burn a building down on the local Air Force Base & they caught his sorry a$$).

I still have very vivid memories of watching houses blow up into big fireballs in the night sky. One time I saw a fireball shoot from a house 300 feet in the air.

So, I'm in total agreement. Move the processor out of an attached garage and into a DETACHED building. Your house, your family, and your life isn't worth risking just because you wanted to save a couple bucks on fuel.

Also, this is a great time to bring it up. BUY A FIRE EXTINGUISHER AND KEEP IT HANDY! I hope you may never need one, but it's always a good idea to have on hand.

I have big, bad a$$ fire extinguishers near my equipment. I know where they are, can easily grab them if needed, and I know how to use them.

I'd recommend the same to anyone else that makes Biodiesel.

Anyway, that's my $0.02 cents.

Graydon




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Location: Utah | Registered: October 08, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If you go in and read the artcle posted on the firefighters' site you will see that the fire did in fact start elsewhere and that the biodiesel equipment contributed to the fire; this we've been on and on and on about here ad nauseum.
You will also not that in the guidelines given the TYPE of containers is discussed, and proper storage is discussed. This is not a hit piece on biodiesel at all, it is simply demonstarting how that if the proper equipment isn't used then the results could be catastrophic.
Just like keeping the heating element out of a water heater as a reactor is responsible, so is detaching the reactor house from any primary building(s). Look at the photo posted in the article. One water heater reactor, and plastic everywhere; this is in the part of the article that speaks of proper container types.
I don't know how many times this forum has addressed that exact scenario; fire starts, you have plastic tanks full of biodiesel, fire reaches tanks, you got a much bigger problem than you had a minute ago.
And biodiesel, with it's higher flash point and self propagated oxygen supply, will, once ignited, be much more difficult to put out than a diesel fire or a gasoline fire.
Tilly;
Thank you for posting that article. It goes to confirm what has been said here many many times. The nice part (if there is one) is that is was NOT the biodiesel that started the fire, it certainly DID contribute to it with devastating results.



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Location: :-) Great White North eh ? | Registered: December 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The firewall, as I understand it, is just a piece of drywall that is thicker than normal.

It just seems to me that if the fire started in the house and was able to spread to the garage that the house was already destroyed.

I forgot to include one thing in my previous post..
I think anyone doing this in their garage is taking a huge risk. But I do understand why they do it.


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Registered: March 09, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Let me just say as a Massachusetts resident, that while I agree with everything said here the only part of the article that I have a problem with is this little thing:
"PERMITS FOR THE STORAGE OF FLAMMABLE AND COMBUSTIBLE LIQUIDS ARE REQUIRED BY MASSACHUSETTS FIRE PREVENTION REGULATIONS PRIOR TO THE STORAGE OF BIODIESEL AND THE PRODUCTS USED TO PROCESS THE VEGETABLE OIL."

Simply because this state has a tendency to over regulate everything! That being said, my processor that I'm currently constructing is actually going to be a mobile trailer unit, with it's own power supply, and will never be anywhere near my house.


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Location: Dudley,MA | Registered: December 06, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I agree that bio-fuel processing or any other flammable liquids should never be kept in an attached garage or in the basement, with the possible exception of a properly installed fuel oil day tank.

More laws and regulations are not required. It's much simpler for the insurance companies to state that your fire insurance is null and void if you are keeping flammable liquids in an attached garage or basement.

My VO processor is in a separate shelter 10 meters from the house.



 
Location: coldest N.America | Registered: May 03, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'm sorry everybody, but I'm gonna have to disagree with you on this.
Of course biodiesel equipment should be kept as far from the house as possible, but that should be because of the fumes it may produce, not because of the fire hazard.
Yes, biodiesel is flammable, but I fail to see how having a biodiesel container in your garage would be any more dangerous (fire wise) than parking your car with a tank full of gas in it.
What would've been the difference if those people had a car, or truck/SUV with a full tank in their garage?
I'd say, given that most people (to save a couple of bucks) insulate their processors, the flames would've probably spread faster in the car/truck scenario.
Biodiesel is flammable, and so is 90% of everything you find in a normal home, including the wood most houses are built with, the glorified cardboard (drywall) that covers the wood, most of the furniture, etc. Bottom line: As weird as it may sound, a house is a dangerous place to live. Add to that the fact that most people don't even have a fire extinguisher in their homes, or any other effective way to try and control a fire, and you have a recipe for disaster, biodiesel or not.


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Location: Miami, Florida. | Registered: April 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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I'm sorry everybody, but I'm gonna have to disagree with you on this.

Everyone has their own standards for acceptable risk. What I might consider OK for me is quite different from what I would recommend to others, especially on a public forum that any idiot can read.



 
Location: coldest N.America | Registered: May 03, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by bernyjb:
Biodiesel is flammable, and so is 90% of everything you find in a normal home, including the wood most houses are built with, the glorified cardboard (drywall) that covers the wood, most of the furniture, etc.


Real drywall is quite fire-resistant, and not "glorified cardboard" as you put it. Yes, it has two cardboard/paperboard outer sheathing layers, but the core is actually powdered and reconstituted gypsum, which is a stone.

It takes a very, very, very intense and hot flame to burn drywall. Liberal use of accelerants and lots of readily available fuel.

My reactor and storage is attached to the house, but only by virtue of sharing a common concrete wall. With a corrugated steel roof with a poured concrete slab atop it, six inch thick concrete walls all the way around it, and a poured slab floor, there isn't really any way a fire is going to get through to the house. We call it "the dungeon" for a reason. It'd be in a shed out back except that the HOA gets up in arms over every little thing we do. Homeowner politics. Roll Eyes


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Location: Clemson, SC | Registered: March 02, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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