Welding fire incident
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Texas
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    522

    Welding fire incident

    Had an interesting incident a few days ago I wanted to share, because it's show how easy it is to start a fire with a welder. A subcontractor I know was welding H-braces on a ranch fence he was building. It was a little gusty outside, but not like a continuous wind. He had an assistant with him helping and watching for sparks, with a water sprayer handy. Everything went smoothly for a while. They moved down the fence line and looked back and huge flames were coming up 20 feet away from where he was welding FIFTEEN MINUTES ago. Apparently a gust had carried a spark into a patch of dry grass and it had just glowed there until it finally flared up. Anyway, he and the local fire departments spent the next two days fighting that fire. He wasn't charged or fined or anything; the sheriff said it was just one of those chance things, he didn't do anything wrong. But it was a long, long day for him.

    Be careful out there.
    -Ruark
    Lincoln 3200HD
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    TWECO Fabricator 211i

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Location
    Southern California
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    398

    Re: Welding fire incident

    Glad he wasn't charged and no one was hurt, scary though for sure. I bet he saw his whole financial future burning up in that fire

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    Central Wa. state
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    2,425

    Re: Welding fire incident

    Can the "assistant" walk right yet? If I was paying a guy to watch for fires, he better be on it.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    Southern California
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    398

    Re: Welding fire incident

    HAHA good point! Working alone any time you see that weird orange glow coming in from behind your helmet it's a nightmare, heart stopping moment

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
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    17

    Re: Welding fire incident

    Um, that guy didn't get a job in France recently, did he?

    Sent from my SM-G955F using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    2,469

    Re: Welding fire incident

    Quote Originally Posted by jeff.kabel View Post
    Um, that guy didn't get a job in France recently, did he?

    Sent from my SM-G955F using Tapatalk
    , i think more grinders start firew than welding. but i knew a dairyman in s. calif, that had a hired welder building cow corrals. down there they get santa ana winds that get up to 70-80 mph. i dont know how fast it was blowing that day, but the weld blew into a haystack/barn, (a few hundred ton of hay), that wind engulfed it so fast. the dairyman had ins., and claimed he had more hay than he really did, so he came out OK. it burnt for several days

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Western Washington
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    3,215

    Re: Welding fire incident

    This is why the standard rule is fire watch for at least 30 minutes after last weld in an area... because stuff can smolder for a pretty long time without being noticed, and having wind blowing makes it worse!!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Cave Creek AZ
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    2,779

    Re: Welding fire incident

    I try to spray the area before and after welding. I also keep a 5 gallon bucket of water at hand. I have started 2 minor fires while working in grassy areas. Both were easily contained with the 5 gallon bucket. Both were after misting with water, and sparked up with the hood down.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
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    17

    Re: Welding fire incident

    Fires should definitely be top of mind any time you do any sort of welding!

    What could Possibly Go Wrong?




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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Illinois
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    8,735

    Re: Welding fire incident

    Working outside the wind is a factor along with dry conditions. I would set up a section of scaffolding with some fire blankets for wind a spark protection. One upright at each end and a cross brace takes five minutes to set up. Lay a couple of fire blankets down and go to it. Don't fire fire extinguishers and a bucket or drum of water on truck.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    NW ON Canada
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    3,189

    Re: Welding fire incident

    Work area safety and fire awareness is always the responsibility of the person doing the welding. It always falls back on the person who is making the sparks. I’ve seen guys loose their jobs because of this on more than one occasion. On any commercial or industrial job, if you don’t have a fire extinguisher present at the weld area, your going to get yourself into some serious trouble.
    Jason
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    1,132

    Re: Welding fire incident

    I work with a hose in the "shop".

    In the field, I use a PTO chemical sprayer full of water (200gal) to wet down the area near the welding. If it's blowing over about 10ish mph...…….I don't weld...….period. Just not worth it. Fire is a very serious threat here during dry spells, and all Winter long.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    anoka co mn
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    517

    Re: Welding fire incident

    Hitting it with a weed wacker before you weld is a good idea too.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Greensburg Pa
    Posts
    490

    Re: Welding fire incident

    My current welding truck im operating i lit a puddle of oil on top of the gas tank on fire. Not my proudest moment! The truck had a sa 200 that came with the purchase and the custom welding bed was open below the sa 200 (to allow easy welder oil changes). Well one of the trucks gas tank straps broke off the frame, so i decided to weld it back to the truck frame. Didnt know there was this puddle of oil sitting perfectly on top of the gas tank that was from the sa 200 leaking oil from above. Everything else around looked really clean. The trail blazer had already been mounted to the truck so i never noticed a oul leak from above.

    Scary thats for sure! I grabbed my fire extinguisher fast!!!! and then dealt with the complete mess it made of my shop afterward but better that blowing myself up!!!

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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    1,132

    Re: Welding fire incident

    They never figured out for sure, but it was generally thought that welding started this one.



    Guys building fence started a fire in the identical place a day before. About 2 1/2 miles to the South. When it refired, it took about half an hour to get to this point.

    Truck going by was one of the volunteers hauling water for the pumpers. Dood was runnin' balz to the wall coming back up for more water.

    By the time all was done...……...this fire burned for about 30 miles.

    Burned past us, wind reversed, and it came back across us that night.



    Welding isn't anything to mess with.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Southwest Nebraska
    Posts
    53

    Re: Welding fire incident

    One warm December morning I was welding a piece of aluminum for a buddy's detach trailer. It was a calm morning, so I just opened the door of the shop and welded it on the back of my 51 Chevy pickup. Two days previously I unintentionally filled the gas tank on the pickup all the way, and the pickup was sitting on a slight slope with the filler neck on the downhill side. The sunshine warmed the inside of the cab, causing the gas to expand and dribble out the filler neck.

    I was unaware of this until I heard a POP while I was welding. I stopped welding, lifted my hood, and saw the passenger's side of my 51 ON FIRE. I grabbed my first 10 pound fire extinguisher and could not knock down the flames all the way. I grabbed my second 10 pounder and still could not get ahead of the flames. I yelled in the house for my wife to get the FD coming while I tried the garden hose in vain. FD arrived in 3 minutes, which seemed like 4 hours, and quickly got the fire put out. While I was not happy my pickup burned, I was really concerned about my shop. Luckily the flames were confined to the passenger side of the pickup, away from my newly completed shop. I was very fortunate and learned a hard lesson that day.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    1,132

    Re: Welding fire incident

    Quote Originally Posted by Deerehauler View Post
    One warm December morning I was welding a piece of aluminum for a buddy's detach trailer. It was a calm morning, so I just opened the door of the shop and welded it on the back of my 51 Chevy pickup. Two days previously I unintentionally filled the gas tank on the pickup all the way, and the pickup was sitting on a slight slope with the filler neck on the downhill side. The sunshine warmed the inside of the cab, causing the gas to expand and dribble out the filler neck.

    I was unaware of this until I heard a POP while I was welding. I stopped welding, lifted my hood, and saw the passenger's side of my 51 ON FIRE. I grabbed my first 10 pound fire extinguisher and could not knock down the flames all the way. I grabbed my second 10 pounder and still could not get ahead of the flames. I yelled in the house for my wife to get the FD coming while I tried the garden hose in vain. FD arrived in 3 minutes, which seemed like 4 hours, and quickly got the fire put out. While I was not happy my pickup burned, I was really concerned about my shop. Luckily the flames were confined to the passenger side of the pickup, away from my newly completed shop. I was very fortunate and learned a hard lesson that day.
    I always ran Dodges till I bought my first Ford.

    My old 1963 D-100, 1966 D-100, and 1978 PowerWagon, all had the cab tanks like yours.

    Was weird hearing the gas slosh behind the seat, but you just got used to it.

    'They' said (WTF are "they"?) that the filler neck would shear in an accident, and spray the cab with gasoline. It was why they banned the cab tanks, so I heard.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    1,132

    Re: Welding fire incident

    Was a guy on here years ago...…...He went by 'Oldtimer'.

    I think he was a retired petroleum industry welder. Lots of pipe.

    Anyways...…...he'd always put up pics of the fires he used to start in his yard from using the grinder A fact that I can well attest to. Grinders start more fires than welding.

    He had a cat...…….called it Oreo.....black cat with white on it.

    Hasn't posted here in years. I figure he's gone. I miss that guy.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Western Washington
    Posts
    3,215

    Re: Welding fire incident

    Yeah, heard all the stories about the Ford's like our 67 with the tank behind the seat coming apart in accidents and roasting ya'.... Well fortunately ours didn't ! When we got headoned by a bunch of teens in a Camaro drifting around a highway corner.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Pitman PA
    Posts
    218

    Re: Welding fire incident

    Back in 2011 I was working out in Denver City TX building another unit at a power plant, The tumbleweeds piled up against the fence outside the switchyard, one of us welders and I couldnt say which one of us as there was a bunch of us sent some sparks with the wind into the pile of tumbleweeds. With the combination of the wind and the heat from the fire some of the lit up tumbleweeds climbed up over the fence into the yard, they shut us down to help fight the fire. We didn't get blamed for it, the folks that owned the plant was responsible for keeping the tumbleweeds cleared out and hadn't cleaned them up in over a year. Seems this happened before on a number of occasions where they would pile up and blow over the fence into the yard and get lit up in the electrics there

    Just this week I was workin on a shovel and got one going on top a cylinder down inside the backwall. I couldnt reach it to smother it with an old glove so I blew off my 10 pounder putting it out. I was more worried about burning the seal in the cylinder than anything. so I go to home depot and get another one to replace it that night, the mine inspector who Ive known for years was doing some shopping there and asked me about it, I told him what happened and he laughed and said good deal he really didn't want to go out and investigate a fire someone got fried in
    Last edited by Popeye an old miner; 04-19-2019 at 08:53 AM.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    3,401

    Re: Welding fire incident

    I mean I may or may not have been responsible for burning a forty or two. or three
    "You can't out puke a buzzard"

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    522

    Re: Welding fire incident

    Started a fire with my grinder once. Was cutting some tubing with a 1/16" cutoff wheel and smelled smoke. A few steps away was a 12-foot-wide circle of grass in flames about chest-high, and spreading fast. Luckily, I just happened to have a water hose right there. Scared the snot out of me. Since then, I have ALWAYS had a water hose (with the water turned on and the nozzle closed) nearby when I'm welding or grinding. It only takes one little spark....
    -Ruark
    Lincoln 3200HD
    Hobart Stickmate LX235
    TWECO Fabricator 211i

  23. #23
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    Dec 2009
    Location
    Stevens Point, WI
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    4,957

    Re: Welding fire incident

    I have a foam pad I kneel on when working on the floor. It has lit up numerous times on me. Sometimes I can smell it, other times I can feel it.

    Just yesterday when working outside I started the pine needles on fire a few times with the mig. I could smell the burning pine needles every time.

    I always spend an hour cleaning up and watching for smoke after working for the day.
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  24. #24
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    Mar 2008
    Location
    Georgetown, Texas
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    1,814

    Re: Welding fire incident

    Quote Originally Posted by VPT View Post
    I have a foam pad I kneel on when working on the floor. It has lit up numerous times on me. Sometimes I can smell it, other times I can feel it.

    Just yesterday when working outside I started the pine needles on fire a few times with the mig. I could smell the burning pine needles every time.

    I always spend an hour cleaning up and watching for smoke after working for the day.
    I think most weldors have great sense of smell where burning is concerned. I can tell the difference in grass, hair electrical or cotton clothing, even different rods.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Posts
    617

    Re: Welding fire incident

    I think it was posted on here a couple of years ago about the welder that started the fire in Overland Park, KS that burned and damaged many houses. That day had gusty winds and the fire department couldn't get ahead of the spread.

    If there are dry conditions and winds, don't weld outside. Wait for a calm day. I've been on fires where the wind was strong enough to sandblast the windshields of the attack trucks bad enough they both had to be replaced. Fortunately that scene didn't have much fuel load. If there is much fuel load the only thing that will stop a wind driven wild fire is a tractor and disc.

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