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Thread: kerosene fire, help me put it out!

  1. #1
    Why is a raven like a writing desk? The Lonely One's Avatar
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    kerosene fire, help me put it out!

    How would one extinguish a growing kerosene fire (say, when a hurricane lamp is spilled on a carpet)? What is the effect of water?--I'm hoping it doesn't work very well b/c my character is about to try it.

    Then he's going to try and stomp it with a twisted ankle, catching his pant leg--ouch!

    When and if neither of these things work, what household item would do the trick?
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    cereal killer Palmfrond's Avatar
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    Smother it with a blanket, throw a whole bunch of flour on it, cover with a metal washtub.

  3. #3
    Why is a raven like a writing desk? The Lonely One's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Palmfrond View Post
    Smother it with a blanket, throw a whole bunch of flour on it, cover with a metal washtub.
    Thanks! What about a dry-agent fire extinguisher? And would water spread or scatter the fire (I'm hoping)?
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    cereal killer Palmfrond's Avatar
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    Water doesn't work well for flaming liquids, as you suspect. If you have a type C fire extinguisher, by all means, start there! I was looking for something low-tech, assuming that someplace lit by a kerosene lamp was either in the past or as least way out in the woods.

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    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Usually water will make any oil based fire "pop" - causing it to spread. The blanket would work to smother it or beat it out. Flour works great if you're near the kitchen. Pot lids work, too.

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    Why is a raven like a writing desk? The Lonely One's Avatar
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    Thanks again; power's out and the flashlight died.
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    "There is no language without deceit." -Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

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    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    You can also knock a potted plant over onto it as the dirt will smother the flames.

  8. #8
    Memorial Day Weekend SuperModerator alleycat's Avatar
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    You might want to check about using flour to put out a fire. I'm no expert by any means but I think I've heard that that's a no-no. Use baking soda, but not flour.



  9. #9
    Feeling lucky, Query? jclarkdawe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Lonely One View Post
    How would one extinguish a growing kerosene fire (say, when a hurricane lamp is spilled on a carpet)? You'd do better with a more solid floor. Let's say you have 2 cups of kerosene in the lamp and the lamp is dropped. Two cups in a small area (such as soaking into a rug) isn't going to provide much of a fire. What you're looking for is a splatter effect. The lamp smashes against a solid surface after a fall of three or four feet. Glass and kerosene are splattered around in a decent size circle, with the kerosene igniting because the lamp is lit. Depending on the splatter, you could end up with an area of fire that encompasses several square feet.

    What is the effect of water?--I'm hoping it doesn't work very well b/c my character is about to try it. Water will just spread the fire, unless you have a significant volume. Twenty gallons might put out 2 cups, but I wouldn't want to try it with anything less. In other words, you stand a chance with a garden hose, but throwing a bucket of water will do nothing for you.

    Then he's going to try and stomp it with a twisted ankle, catching his pant leg--ouch! He's probably not. It's going to be too hot to want to try this. However, definitely a splatter could end up on his leg and start burning his pants. This is one of the big dangers with flammable liquids.

    When and if neither of these things work, what household item would do the trick? Assuming he doesn't have an ABC extinguisher, a dampened towel or blanket would be good. Baking soda is very effective for fires but probably won't have enough to work. A potted plant sounds interesting and would be effective. Inflammable seat cushions can be effective (use to smother).

    Remember that whacking on flammable liquids usually just causes them to spread.
    This is why a good fire extinguisher is so wonderful. It works on a rather large volume of fire with a simple squeeze. No thinking required.

    Best of luck,

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  10. #10
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alleycat View Post
    You might want to check about using flour to put out a fire. I'm no expert by any means but I think I've heard that that's a no-no. Use baking soda, but not flour.
    I can tell you from experience with a grease fire that flour will put it out, but it will also burn (scorch). If you can dump enough of it fast enough it will smother the fire.

  11. #11
    Sheriff Bullwinkle the Poet says: RJK's Avatar
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    We had a grease fire on the kitchen stove. As I came running from the living room I told my wife to throw salt on it. I arrived to see her shaking the salt shaker over the flames as if seasoning it would put it out.
    I grabbed the salt cannister and dumped its contents on the flames and the fire was out.

    Funny thing is - we had an ABC extinguisher under the sink and never thought of using it.

    For those of you who've recommended flour - it burns. Yes it could smother the fire, but so would kitchen towels, but they burn too.

  12. #12
    cereal killer Palmfrond's Avatar
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    Isn't it interesting that inflammable and flammable mean the same, rather than opposite?

  13. #13
    It was a dark and stormy night hammerklavier's Avatar
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    I thought inflammable means "even more flammable".

    Baking soda is good because it doesn't burn and releases CO2 when heated.

  14. #14
    Why is a raven like a writing desk? The Lonely One's Avatar
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    Huh. It's interesting to see how many professional arsonists there are here at AW...
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    practical experience, FTW FinbarReilly's Avatar
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    1) What's even more interesting is how many personal stories of "this is how I put a large fire" there are...and how often otherwise perfectly flammable substances are used to put them out.

    2) As for the pant leg problem: Your character should be able to use any method suggested here, as well as smothering with his hands (by quickly patting them out), or by quickly going to one leg (so that the flame is between the leg and the floor). The standard "stop-drop-roll" doesn't work...

    FR
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  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW JohnB1988's Avatar
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    A flour / air mix can explode. (That always impressed the kids in science class.) But dumping flour onto a flame wouldn’t do it. You’d have to stand across the room and toss the flour upwards so it dispersed. Even then it would be dicey. But done right, we’re talking house-leveling force.

  17. #17
    Soldier, Storyteller Linda Adams's Avatar
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    Don't know if this story will help, but I saw it, and it did start with kerosene.

    When I was in the first Persian Gulf War, we used kerosene heaters in our tents. The batallion commander's driver took his kerosene lantern outside to fill it. He thought it was completely out, but he didn't know he had to wait a period of time for it to really go out.

    When he stuck the spigot for the kerosene can into the lantern, the flames ran up the spigot and into the can. He tossed the can into the tent.

    Then the tent caught fire. Those things are really flammable! It went up in minutes. Because all the tents were close together and tied together, the next one caught and went up too. Then the bullets in the tent started going off, and the whole battalion made for the nearest bunkers.

    A couple of soldiers got axes and dropped the next tent to keep it from catching while one of our cooks (former Marine) brought the shower truck (they had a truck that brought water in for the showers, and there was a full one nearby). He used the water to put out the fire.

    So, if you want it to be hard to put out, have something else catch fire that's very flammable.
    Last edited by Linda Adams; 12-17-2008 at 01:10 AM.
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  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW FinbarReilly's Avatar
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    Of course, if it's just a matter of putting it out without regards to the surroundings, you can always use a grenade or other explosive right on top of the fire (it pushes out the air, taking away the oxygen, and effectively smothering the flames).

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