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ATTENTION! new potential danger of fire


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I've just got back from, to say the least, an interesting 6 day rally. The weather was fine, the river-side site quite nice, & on Saturday the TV turned up to film an episode of 'Bargin Hunt'- which was quite an eye-opener. Very nice you may think, & so it was.........apart from a suicide jumper from a near-by block of flats & a 'van fire only 2 pitches away from me!
It's the fire that I'm most concerned about here as I'd never come across the cause before. With a temperature of 30+ quite a few campers had gone out for the day when I heard a shout from one of the stall holders about 50M away. He rushed over with a large fire extinguisher & proceeded to extinguish the flames now liking up the side of the 'van & consuming the awning! No-one else had noticed a thing, including the nearby TV crew! The fire brigade were quickly on the scene & cleared up the mess. Fortunately the 'van was only very badly scorched but the  (expensive 3 day-old) awning was ruined.

 

Now down to the cause : the absent owner had a portable gas fridge, to keep his bear cool understandably, & had placed it too close to the awning & 'van. The steady heat build-up had ignited the awning roof & if it had not been a fire-retardant type the whole thing would have gone up very rapidly. Ventilation would have saved the day but the awning was closed up tight. A few minutes more & the burning rubber gas pipe would have burst then we would have seen some damage!

 

To add insult to injury, the owner is a retired fireman of 20+ years service. (What hope for the rest of us LOL).
So we live & learn (hopefully), except for those people I've seen who think it's OK to have a barbeque in their awning 'because it's raining outside'......I despare.

 

 

3L auto Nissan Terrano, 2004 & Swift Elegance 530, 2018. As Leonardo da Vinci once said: 'If you find from your own experience that something is a fact & it contradicts what some authority has written down, then you must abandon the authority & base your reasoning on your own findings' ie: use your common sense!

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Thank you for the warning. We have just ordered a cool box for our next trip away. The idea is to keep milk and chilled meals cool so  we don't have to do any shopping. The fridge in our little caravan has limited space. I was intending to use mains voltage on site to run the cool box, this would reduce the current and so hopefully the amount of heat produced.

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Just be aware that a cool box will only reduce the internal temperature to (eventually) about 12-15°c lower than the ambient temperature. They also take a very long time to cool anything down by any appreciable amount.

 

So if it’s 25° outsidein the shade  (not inside a hot awning.,!!) your coolbox will be, at the very best, about 10° inside. A domestic fridge should be at around 5°

 

Cool-boxes have their uses but you need to be aware of their limitations. I gave up a few years ago and invested in a 3 way portable fridge, not cheap but it IS a proper fridge and it works very well off 230v

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Experience is an awful teacher who ends up sending you simply horrifying bills

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the outside gas and electric points are just to the left of the main door on my van  and the same on many other vans, so I can understand the  cool boxes being near or inside an awning, but what an enormous fire risk you have shown this to be. Thankfully we don't use these points very often, but I can see more folk using them for cool  boxes to save them doing the extra shopping. 

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19 minutes ago, peasantfarmer said:

Thank you for the warning. We have just ordered a cool box for our next trip away. The idea is to keep milk and chilled meals cool so  we don't have to do any shopping. The fridge in our little caravan has limited space. I was intending to use mains voltage on site to run the cool box, this would reduce the current and so hopefully the amount of heat produced.

Just make sure the inside temperature is 4c or cooler for milk and foods.:) 

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Bailey Pageant Series 6 Champagne 2007    Tow Car Toyota Rav4

 

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Owning a three way fridge I struggle to see how the fridge ignited the roof of the awning! Even If you had a lump of red hot metal on the floor that wouldn’t do it!! Of course if it had been left right against the awning wall then that could have done it.

 

Personally I never leave my auxiliary fridge in the awning, I put it in the shade and chain it to the chassis :D it’s an expensive bit of kit that’s easily nicked if not secured!

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Experience is an awful teacher who ends up sending you simply horrifying bills

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Hi MTS,  Whilst its good that you have highlighted a potential issue I am puzzled by the presumed causes/s.

 

It seems to me more likely that there was a fault in the appliance, if it was a gas powered unit, rather than a pure overheating issue as that is extremely unlikely to have ignited anything unless placed directly on the appliance and certainly not the awning roof some 2m  or so away.

 

We have a 3 way portable fridge that lives in the awning which in turn is ventilated according to the conditions.

 

Like all equipment, used as it is designed to be, there should be no problems using it in an awning however this does rely on you having considered the three main causers of fire-Men Women & Children!!!

Edited by Allan Guest
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1 hour ago, Doosan said:

Just make sure the inside temperature is 4c or cooler for milk and foods.:) 

We are expecting Scotland in September to be not too hot so it may keep it cool enough. As we use up things in the fridge they will be moved from the cool box into the fridge. We are taking powdered milk and a few tins as a back up in case it doesn't work. May have to buy a portable fridge if it doesn't work.

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Some threads seem to be confusing cooler boxes (typically 12vDC possibly running through a 230vAC tranformer) which COOL things at best 20C lower than ambient, and a gas powered fridge/freezer (possibly a 3 way like Plodd's but on this ocasion running on gas). The portable gas fridges use similar technology to a caravan fridge and we consider these to be completely safe. The only risk other than a product defect, or modification , would be clothing or similar piled around it. It would be good to find out what the cause of this particular fire was. As the owner was a retired fireman he will certainly know the facts.

Ern

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You can, of course, buy cool boxes which also can be a freezer - we have one and over the last few months been a real plus when reducing the number of shopping trips - sometimes we need extra fridge space and other times extra freezer space.

Sam :beardy:   RR Sport HSE Dynamic towing Swift Elegance Grande 845

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There is a world of difference (and cost) between a “cool-box” and a fridge and/or freezer unit.  A Cool box is exactly that, something that gets a little cooler than the surrounding air and is nothing like as good/efficient at keeping perishables safe as a fridge is. 

 

A cool box is ideal for a picnic etc or keeping drinks cool but  a portable 3 way fridge such as mine is every bit as good as the caravans fridge and vastly better than a cool box we used to use!  That’s not to say they are useless but they are not a substitute for a fridge.

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Experience is an awful teacher who ends up sending you simply horrifying bills

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We have a Porta Cool 3 way which is very good but still has limits, 20 degrees below ambient, that are tested in hot conditions.

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12 hours ago, micktheshed said:

I've just got back from, a 6 day rally......... 'van fire only 2 pitches away from me!
: the absent owner had a portable gas fridge,  & had placed it too close to the awning & 'van. The steady heat build-up had ignited the awning roof & if it had not been a fire-retardant type the whole thing would have gone up very rapidly. Ventilation would have saved the day but the awning was closed up tight. A few minutes more & the burning rubber gas pipe would have burst then we would have seen some damage! .......a retired fireman of 20+ years service.

michtheshed: Hope you dont mind me asking, Do you think you could find out precisely what happened, what sort of cooler/fridge, its condition, its location, the fire mechanism? The fire brigade will have a report. The club holding the rally and  the owner of the incident will have. It would be a great service to forum members to have the precise knowledge. 

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Ern

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1 hour ago, Mr Plodd said:

There is a world of difference (and cost) between a “cool-box” and a fridge and/or freezer unit.  A Cool box is exactly that, something that gets a little cooler than the surrounding air and is nothing like as good/efficient at keeping perishables safe as a fridge is. 

 

A cool box is ideal for a picnic etc or keeping drinks cool but  a portable 3 way fridge such as mine is every bit as good as the caravans fridge and vastly better than a cool box we used to use!  That’s not to say they are useless but they are not a substitute for a fridge.

 

My point was that the banner headline 'cool box' tends to include boxes that cool and freeze but not at the same time and, as such, they are not fridge freezers.  Mine is here 

Sam :beardy:   RR Sport HSE Dynamic towing Swift Elegance Grande 845

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SamD’s is a compressor cool boxes which are the best and the most expensive. We had one for years but it was just too big and heavy for the use we got from it.

 

We were on a site a few years ago when a van caught fire. It was totally destroyed in about five minutes.

Edited by Orange
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3 hours ago, Orange said:

We were on a site a few years ago when a van caught fire. It was totally destroyed in about five minutes.

 

Not surprising!   Even a mild fire has flames in the 1000Celius range.   Temperature climbs rapidly with intensity.   On the other hand, ali sheet begins to melt in the mid 600C range.

These people got more than a cup of tea when they pulled in.

 

1072944394_Caravanfire.jpg.0a4f7ccfd582d21d9402ee1912d4bb09.jpg

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9 hours ago, Mr Plodd said:

Owning a three way fridge I struggle to see how the fridge ignited the roof of the awning! Even If you had a lump of red hot metal on the floor that wouldn’t do it!! Of course if it had been left right against the awning wall then that could have done it.

 

Personally I never leave my auxiliary fridge in the awning, I put it in the shade and chain it to the chassis :D it’s an expensive bit of kit that’s easily nicked if not secured!

It was not possible to say that only the roof ignited (not that it would have made any real difference) as the whole of one side had burnt away as well. The heat from a gas fridge exhaust is quite localised & when placed right next to an awning wall/'van wall, in a confined space (the awning was shut up tight!), it can't fail to heat things up. Just try touching the exhaust pipe on your 'van fridge! That's what happened here. If the burning gas pipe had ruptured I dread to think of the consequences. As I pointed out: a bit of ventilation would have saved the day. When I had a portable gas fridge (in an awning, during the '80s) ventilation was my first priority, if only to stop fumes building up. I have to admit the fire risk didn't even occur to me then.

 

Ern: I will attempt to contact the steward regarding any details he has but it is likely to be a while. I don't expect much new evidence to come to light though. It was a frightening experience for everyone involved & now a warning for us all.

 

I've just remembered a similar incident (from the late 80's) involving an idiot who light a barbeque very close to the rear of his 'van (because it was windy!). He was the only one surprised when hot coals blew onto the 'van & melted the rear panel! Luckily, for all of us nearby, it rained & put the smoldering out.

 

What's that saying about common sense not being  common anymore? Perhaps it never was that common at all......

3L auto Nissan Terrano, 2004 & Swift Elegance 530, 2018. As Leonardo da Vinci once said: 'If you find from your own experience that something is a fact & it contradicts what some authority has written down, then you must abandon the authority & base your reasoning on your own findings' ie: use your common sense!

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