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stumblebum
03-17-2016, 10:44 PM
...as explosively as possible.

The house in question is a remote mountain cabin, two stories, constructed primarily of wood timbers and other combustible materials. The house is connected to city electric, but the power is out. There is a gas stove/oven, as well as gas heat, which is is active, as the story takes place in fall in Vermont. If it is more practical/realistic, I can switch to kerosene. There is at least one propane tank on site, connected to a grill on the back deck, with the possibility another in the basement. Finally there is a generator, with a reasonable amount of fuel stored for it to operate.

It is dark, cold and snowing. The MC, a young woman, has three molotov cocktails in her possession, though she may need them as weapons in addition to setting the house alight. She also has a shotgun, a pistol, and a small pack which could contain other helpful items if the plot dictates it. She is intelligent enough to quickly survey the house (which she has never been in before), and come up with a plan. She also has a propensity for setting things on fire.

Working against her are several supernatural creatures which she must fight as she sets fire to the house, the cold, the dark, and the fact that she is rapidly dying.

My inclination is to have the climax take place in the basement. I know that simply shooting a propane tank won't do the trick, at least, not with normal rounds. She would first have to alter the tanks in some way, then ignite the fumes, which could then cause the tanks to rupture.

An alternate plan would be to have her rip the oven from the connecting pipe, flooding the kitchen with fumes, and then igniting the room.

My question relates to the feasibility of these plans. My limited experience with fuel tanks has them being placed outside, adjacent to the house. But then, I've never lived in a house with a basement. Is it possible that the tank would be stored there, and if so, how would one go about making it go boom?

Any thoughts on these ideas, or other creative solutions, would be greatly appreciated.

mirandashell
03-17-2016, 10:54 PM
Is she the hero or the villain?

stumblebum
03-17-2016, 11:00 PM
Hero. Burn down the house, save the world. Or something like that.

jclarkdawe
03-17-2016, 11:00 PM
Mountain cabins don't usually have basements. It would more likely be an old house with a basement, and frequently not a full basement. Basements take a crap load of work to dig out, and frequently you hit ledge in Vermont.

If after that, you still want a basement, usually in the basement are a furnace and a water heater, both run with the propane. More primitive cabin would use wood heat and might lack the hot water option.

As far as setting the fire, if you're not worried about an arson investigation, you take a gas line. Hack saw will cut, a solid pair of cutters will go through it, and worse case, you sit there and bend it back and forth until something breaks. You now have a leak. Easily solved by shutting the valve on the tank.

But if you don't shut off the valve, the propane will leak into the basement, forming a pool of gas. Wait as few minutes, flick your Bic, and boom. Nice fire ball and more likely than not, the fire department can save the basement. Switching on any electrical device could sent this off.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

King Neptune
03-17-2016, 11:30 PM
Do you want her to survive? If she is in the basement when 5 gallons of propane mixed with air goes off, then she probably will not survive. And the squirrel is right about basements in backwoods houses. Your idea of breaking the line to the oven and having it start there would be good. If there are old-fashioned pilot lights, then she could break it and walk away. Without those she could break the line and wait a while for the propane to leak out and mix with air. Then she could get well away from the house and toss in a lighted Molotov cocktail; that should do the ignition.

stumblebum
03-17-2016, 11:43 PM
Thanks for your suggestions, King Neptune and Jim.

King Neptune, the MC isn't killed by the blast, though she could be injured by it. Going with Jim's suggestion to remove the basement for the sake of realism leaves me with the kitchen as the next most obvious source of the explosion. There is a 'big bad,' which she is trying to lure into the house, and preferably into the kitchen. Fortunately for her, Big Bad isn't from this world, and so thus doesn't know much about propane or safety valves. Also, no one is coming to put out the fire, or to save her, for that matter.

I think this will work.

jclarkdawe
03-17-2016, 11:49 PM
Okay, here's a simple trap, providing you have electricity, and you character gets to survive.

It's after dark. Your character gets the gas going (by the way, if this is an old stove (not unusual in cabins) you can turn on the burners without any flame to burn off the gas -- same result as creating a leak), and climbs out a back window. Bad whatever comes in the front door and flicks the light switch. Electricity arcs, and boom. Increase the chances of wanting light by placing a kitchen chair about four feet from the door, so that the bad whatever trips over it. When you start tripping over things, you want to turn on a light.

Best of luck

Jim Clark-Dawe

cmhbob
03-18-2016, 01:35 AM
Remember that propane is heavier than air, so your spark device has to be within a couple of feet of the floor.

Bolero
03-18-2016, 01:50 PM
And if big bad not from this world, then it probably wouldn't flick a light switch.

She'd also need to be out of range of flying shards of glass from the windows. If she closes shutters on all the windows except the one she climbs out of, it will also help concentrate the blast.

Smell - would the smell of the gas be noticeable enough to stop someone from entering?

For a good trap need a bait to draw whatever to rush in - a dummy in a chair?

Now getting complicated and thinking of trip wires so big bad rushes across the room to attack the dummy and catches feet in the trip wire. Film classic would be it pulls the pin out of a hand grenade. But she probably doesn't have one. Trying and failing to think of something the other end of the wire could be attached to, to create a spark reliably.

stumblebum
03-18-2016, 08:15 PM
cmhbob,
Good point. Thanks for the reminder. I will definitely factor that in.

Bolero,
You are correct. Big Bad would not know to turn on a switch; besides, it doesn't need to the light to see. It would register the smell of propane, but not recognize the danger. It is powerful in its own way, but ignorant of the modern world.

The MC is the bait. This means she may not survive. A trip wire is a possibility I am considering. From my misspent youth I know how to make a simple one using a box of matches and some fishing line, but I don't know if at this point the MC would have the manual dexterity in her fingers to make the trap--she's pretty beat up by this time.

A more simple solution would be to furnish the kitchen with stainless steel appliances and have her shoot the stove or fridge, thus creating a spark (remembering to aim low, as cmhbob pointed out). That would put her in line-of-sight of the explosion, and thus in harm's away, but that is a risk she would take.

Bolero
03-18-2016, 08:38 PM
cmhbob,


A more simple solution would be to furnish the kitchen with stainless steel appliances and have her shoot the stove or fridge, thus creating a spark (remembering to aim low, as cmhbob pointed out). That would put her in line-of-sight of the explosion, and thus in harm's away, but that is a risk she would take.

Muzzle flash could also do it - but that puts her in harm's way.

Aerial
03-18-2016, 09:09 PM
cmhbob,
Good point. Thanks for the reminder. I will definitely factor that in.

Bolero,
You are correct. Big Bad would not know to turn on a switch; besides, it doesn't need to the light to see. It would register the smell of propane, but not recognize the danger. It is powerful in its own way, but ignorant of the modern world.

The MC is the bait. This means she may not survive. A trip wire is a possibility I am considering. From my misspent youth I know how to make a simple one using a box of matches and some fishing line, but I don't know if at this point the MC would have the manual dexterity in her fingers to make the trap--she's pretty beat up by this time.

A more simple solution would be to furnish the kitchen with stainless steel appliances and have her shoot the stove or fridge, thus creating a spark (remembering to aim low, as cmhbob pointed out). That would put her in line-of-sight of the explosion, and thus in harm's away, but that is a risk she would take.

Is the movie trick of sticking metal/chemicals/whatever in the microwave even remotely realistic? i.e. blow something up in the microwave that will provide enough heat/flame to ignite the gas in the room (and give her a few seconds to run)?

Quentin Nokov
03-18-2016, 11:12 PM
Propane would give you the biggest explosion.


We use propane for the water heater, and the water heater is in our basement. If the fittings over the pipe carrying the fuel leaked then all you would need is a flick of a light switch or a cigarette lighter or the pilot light on the water heater to send the house exploding into pieces. A few years ago my county saw a horrible propane explosion. The family lost their entire home and one of the family members was killed. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/explosion-kills-girl-levels-home-in-ny-town/

http://wivb.com/2013/02/13/familys-view-of-wilson-home-explosion/


The photo is a bit crappy because it's dark, but this is part of the propane piping in our basement: http://i.imgur.com/PGtSLbA.jpg


Kay, see how the piping comes all the way down and then up at a 'T' joint there is another pipe that branches off a bit higher? The reason for that is so any rust or dirt can fall to the bottom of the pipe, and the gas flows out the horizontal pipe toward the water heater. The bottom portion pipe helps prevent crude from obstructing the gas to flow. Any dirt particles will fall down to the bottom and thus be out of the way.

Now zoom in on the bottom. . . http://s9.postimg.org/7ieg2e7wf/IMG_4669.jpg

If you were to loosen the bottom cap, the gas would eek out into the basement. The cap doesn't even need to be off all the way, but it can be if you want it to. You need oxygen and propane mixed to get the explosion. How you want to set of the explosion is up to you. Flicking on a light switch could set it off if there is a spark in the circuit, or the pilot light from the water heater (which was on when I went down to take this picture) could set it off.