Friday, May 18, 2012

Just clearing brush doesn't mean it's fire safe

Last month in Southern California, someones preps went up in smoke.  The person had a couple of trailers, a shipping container, water barrels, solar panels, and much more.  It was all behind a chain link fence in an area that was sparsely populated.  Most people had about 20 or more acres of land.  I'm not sure if the landowner lived in one of the nearby houses.  I don't think he lived in the trailers.  This property was more about storage of his stuff. To me, he looked like a serious prepper.  Or at least, he was...

What happened, you are probably asking yourself?  It all started when one of the two travel trailers somehow caught on fire.  I don't know how it caught on fire.  I don't know if something inside overheated or what.  Nobody was on the property when the fire started.  By the time the fire department showed up it was "fully involved".  This means completely on fire.  They weren't going to save that trailer.  The heat from that fire caused a second trailer to catch fire.  This trailer wasn't fully involved when they arrived but it wasn't going to be able to be saved. 

The heat from both the trailers was so intense that the fire was causing the shipping container that was next to the trailers to heat up.  They were worried that the container would get so hot the items in the container would catch fire.  Just because there isn't direct flame on something doesn't mean it won't catch fire.  Think about roasting marshmallows.  They don't have to touch the flame to burst into flames themselves.  

The firefighters started preparing their hoses to fight the fire and try to stop damage to the shipping container.  Then sounds of ammunition exploding came from the shipping container.   The crews backed off.  After the popping stopped the crews cut off the lock and also cut a hole in the shipping container to get better access to it to try to put out the fire that started on the inside of the container.  They also removed the solar panels from the roof of the container and disabled the electrical system in order to cut the electricity dangers.  After about an hour exploding ammunition was again heard.  The crews moved away once again. 

The property owner showed up to the scene and said that he had ammunition and reloading equipment in the shipping container including black powder and smokeless gun powder.  It was in a safe inside the shipping container so the property owner didn't think that it would be a safety issue.  The fire crew backed up anyway.  As they were repositioning themselves a violent explosion occurred inside the shipping container.  One of the crew, who was over thirty feet away from the shipping container was knocked down forcefully due to the blast.  The safe that the landowner had all his ammunition and reloading equipment in was a cheap safe.  You know, one that only cost a few hundred dollars.  The kind meant to keep your kids out, not bad guys or fires.

I've read how people have bought metal boxes for their pickups and bolted them down into cement and used them as inexpensive equipment storage containers.  They are cheaper than a good safe and for some reason people will spend gobs of money on weapons and ammunition and try to skimp on the safe.  My Liberty safe cost over $1500.  It took me a long time to save up for it but in a fire like this the Liberty safe would not have failed. 

What if the landowner just couldn't afford a good safe?  What else could he have done to safeguard his preps? 

There wasn't vegetation between the trailers.  They had the brush cleared so the owner thought they were fire safe.  But he was wrong.  The distance between the two trailers was less than 10 feet and between the second trailer and shipping container less than 15 feet.  If they were further apart the heat from the first trailer wouldn't have caught the second trailer on fire.  Heat from the second trailer wouldn't have caught the shipping container on fire.  The safe wouldn't have had a catastrophic failure and exploded.  The water barrels wouldn't have melted if they were further away.   And, the landowner wouldn't have lost all his preps.   


  1. What city was this in? I just wondered if it was near me......

  2. Great reminder. We use a trailer/container to store baseball equipment and it is always hot in warm weather.

  3. Thanks :) That is only an hour away and I have a friend there! We can't find any info on it online. Do you have a link?


  4. I haven't seen it on line either. I'm not sure why they aren't posting it.