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Accidents & Close Calls

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by xman23, Nov 4, 2008.

  1. xman23

    xman23 Minister of Fire

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    We all know felling, bucking, splitting and burning wood can be a very hazardous. I’ve had a few close calls. Here’s my first wood stove near disaster story.

    If you have a story, it would great if you could share it, so we can all learn a hidden dangers just waiting to bite us.

    So we just finished building our new weekend cabin, Christmas of 2000. I had a few cords of seasoned oak split and ready to burn in the Jotel, Oslo. We use it to heat the house on the weekends and let it burn out Sunday night. The house is kept at 45 degrees with the electric heat until we return the following week. Friday night I clean it out last weekend’s ashes. The snow in the yard that year was 2 feet deep so I would dump the ashes in a large plastic barrel left over from the construction on the covered side porch. Well after about 2 months of this, the barrel was half full, I decided to empty it. As it moved I discovered the bottom had burned thru a hole about 6 inches in diameter. Under the barrel the ashes burned same 6 inch diameter hole ¾ of the way thru the deck board. As I exposed the board to the air it started glowing red hot. I threw the can over the side into the snow and ran thru the house filling a pot with water. Everyone in the house knew something was going on, luckily I got it doused. One more week of this and I think the board would have burned thru the bottom and hit the air. We would have never known what had happened because the fire dept up there saves the foundations. The ¾ burned thru board is now a great conversation piece of how our new house almost had a very short life. Who would think week old cold ash would still have a hot ember and smolder in the ash pile, but it can and it did!!!!
    The ash now goes into metal can in the yard on top of a bluestone slab.

    So lets here from you, how you work safe etc. The road of hard knocks is not fun.

    Tom

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  2. oconnor

    oconnor Minister of Fire

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    Posted this earlier in another thread, but I'll repost here as well - I like the idea of a lesson learned thread - we will learn as much from telling stories as we can from questions and code books.

    Is your basement stove vented thru an external flue? If so, let me tell you a story:

    My basement installed stove with outside flue created lots of heat, so I decided to blow some of the hot air out of the room. One night, I reloaded the stove after the coals had started to die off, switched on the fan that blew up the stairs and went upstairs to bed. 30 Mins later, I woke up to my smoke alarm going off, ran downstairs and was met with a room full of smoke.

    So what happened? - the basement of my bungalow, any bungalow for that matter, is below the neutral pressure plan of the house. Any warm air leaving the basement needs to be replaced. As the coals had started to die down, my flue had cooled, and did not provide much draft to start the fire. My fan added to the air leaving the room, and the laws of physics required something to give, so the flue reversed it’s flow, and the smoke came out into the room.

    So what did I do wrong? - First, I left the room before the fire was going strong. I assumed that it would start, and had damped it down. Second, I aggrevated the below neutral pressure plane condition with the fan, which increased the tendancy of the flue to reverse it’s flow, and become an air intake versus exhaust.

    So what did I change the next time? - Always made sure fire was fully develeoped before damping down and leaving room, stopped trying to move hot air out of my basement.

    Instead of moving hot air out, I set up a fan and duct to blow cold air from the cold area upstairs to the basement rec room where the stove was (small inline fan I bought at Princess Auto, simple and cheap, and not a high flow rate). This helped the pressure plane issue (marginally, but at least it did not aggrevate it), and allowed the bouyant hot air to make it’s way all through my house, even the farthest bedrooms. It also noticably decreased the cold draft that came down the stairs into the rec room.

    What would I do if I was still living there? - Insulate the unfortunate outside flue. Mine was a steel Selkirk, so I would need to build an insulated chase around it. If it had been a lined masonry flue, I would have insulated the liner.

    Edit on 29 November - an Outdoor Air Kit on the stove would have likely helped isolate the stove from the depressurization I experienced - one more thing I would do differently

    I learned about fire from that.
  3. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Constant mangling of legs from processing wood in shorts, woodstove burns, tree hangups a gogo recently (cutting in woods)- mostly small stuff, but nearly constant blood loss when I do anything stove or outdoor related.
  4. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    I've never done anything dumb. Rick
  5. jqgs214

    jqgs214 Minister of Fire

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    YOU JUST POSTED THAT ! :)
  6. Risser09

    Risser09 New Member

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    My dad and I were clearing out a bunch of trees, brush, etc. on his 2 acre lot. We both had chainsaws and were working for awhile. He decided to cut a tall pine tree with me nearby, without telling me ANYTHING, expecting me to see his every move. The top of the tree landed right on my head. Luckily I was wearing my Bauer ice hockey helmet which caused it to deflect off. I cursed him out big time.
  7. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    I have several pairs of jeans that are cut through on the thigh by the chain saw blade. this is before I decided to purchase chaps. Not once however, did the saw touch the skin. Dont know how I cut them without cutting flesh but I did. Seems impossible but I always pulled the saw away just after ripping through the jeans. Mostly happened while clearing brush.
  8. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    The following is a true story that took place early one morning about 45 years ago, but it seems like yesterday. It was NO accident and not a close call but there were lessons learned. The actors are real: Don the bus driver made me sit with the bully, Tony Giancursio. When Tony threatened to punch me, I lifted my lunch box up to protect my face. Always undaunted, Tony punched my lunch box which hit me in the nose sending my head backwards and knocking open the emergency window. Don stopped the bus, came back and yelled at me for messing with the window.
    Lessons; teach your children to be the bully, it's good to be the bus driver, and don't carry a lunch box.
  9. ikessky

    ikessky Minister of Fire

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    Northern WI
    I was doing some logging with my dad about 13 years ago. He got his saw pinched in a tree. After trying to push and pull on the tree, we finally decided that I would run and get my grandpa's saw. So he starts making a second cut. Guess what? That saw got pinched also. I ran home and got two 4-foot pry bars that he had. We finally manged to get both saws out, but not before we got one of the pry bars stuck! Dad almost had me run home for the ax.
  10. burntime

    burntime New Member

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    Lets hope that its not a genetic flaw ikessky %-P Just kidding. I have pinched a saw by myself, thats when you kinda sit and stew about what went wrong. Sometimes you get luck, sometimes you go for another saw or pry bar. For the record I have done it 2 times, once I got it out with a good gust of wind, the other time it was a see saw for 5 minutes.
  11. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

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    Not an accident, nor a close call, but I think you'll appreciate the story. I have a 3 pt. hitch splitter and that bad boy hooks up to the Ford tractor ya see. Well, the splitter was my brothers, and the tractor is my dad's, and I had some figuring to do to determine if the Ford would run the splitter, and how to hook 'er up. Turns out the setup works great but I use the front end loader hoses to run the splitter, which means I have to tie back the FEL control knob so the splitter works right, and yeah, the hoses gotta be hooked up the right way to the splitter or everything works backwards, yea, yea, I know, it's complicated.

    What I didn't know was, when I was done splitting, and disconnected the hydraulic lines from the splitter, I wanted to hook 'em back up to the tractor. Well, all but one of the hydraulic lines, which are quick disconnect, hooked right up.....HOWEVER, one of them SONSABEECHES just would not seat proper. Well, I worked on that thing for at least 2 hours trying different things, cussin', switchin' it out with the other hoses, tryin' it again, and nothin' would work. Sooooo, I walked over to dad's house, and told him my predicament.

    HAHA, he says, "well, there's something ya gotta do with it but I don't remember"....

    Well, DUH, like I didn't know that! I mean, I was up on that tractor, firin' it up, movin' the loader control, up, down, right left, off the ground, on the ground, up with the bucket, down with the bucket, down off the tractor, try and hook the hose up, nothin' was workin, and I mean NOTHIN'.

    Pop says, call Donny, he'll know what to do, he told me last time how to hook it up.

    So I call Donny, Donny says, ya got pressure built up in the hose. Ya cover the end of the hose with a rag and hammer on the pin on the end, and hydraulic fluid will spit out of there, relieving the pressure....

    Sooooooo, sure enough, I go to the old ford, cover the hose end, and hit it with a piece of apple wood, and swoooooosh, I get blasted in the face with with a shot of hydraulic oil....go figure :lol: just like Donny said, haha!

    After that, the hose hooked right up, no problem!
  12. trapshooter9

    trapshooter9 New Member

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    Central Ohio
    I had cut down a large tree and the butt end of the log was hung up on the stump. While trying to free it I got my 034 pinched. While trying to free it, the log fell and crushed my saw. I loved that saw. What an idiot!
  13. xman23

    xman23 Minister of Fire

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    Lackawaxen PA
    Maybe the title should be “Accidents, Close Calls & Memories.

    I have to tell one about Dad. My father had built his house and over the years he cleared many large trees on his 1 acre wooded lot. I guess he was a bit frugal because there were chain saws but he didn’t own one. He used a 6 foot 2 man saw. Since child labor was cheep my brother and I were on the other side of this beast saw. Those saws were amazingly fast. I remember buckin 2 or 3, 2 foot diameter rounds without stopping. Ok maybe I’m dreamin a bit.

    Well he was not very good at predicting where the tree would land. I’m not sure why, he used cables and come alongs, but they seamed to go the wrong way most of the time. This was in the days when you learned by trial and error. I suspect he didn’t really know how create the hinge. I remember one went in the pool. The worst one was the day he was going to land one across the driveway. Well parked in the driveway was one of his not running retired cars. It was going to be my first car, if I could fix it, I can see it now!!! A Volvo P544, red leather interior, 4 speed on the floor, dual Stromberg carbs. Yep that tree landed squarely across the drivers seat, flattened it.

    I have to get to Dads house ASAP, he has giant one hung up in the crotch of another tree. This one’s not his fault the wind did it last week.

    Guys, let’s hear some more, these are great stories we can all learn from!!!!

    Tom
  14. seeyal8r

    seeyal8r Feeling the Heat

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    I bought 80 acres a couple years ago just a few miles outside of town. Years ago the area was cotton fields but many trees have taken over. No good hardwoods mainly elm, hackberry, and eastern red cedars. At the time we bought the place I figured there was a couple weeks worth of chainsawing to get the cedars cleared. Boy was I wrong. I cut about 75-90 cedars an hour using a tank of chainsaw gas an hour and have cut more than 90 hours worth. So to me a conservative estimate is that I've cut around 7,000 cedar trees down over the course of more than 2 years. Anybody who has tried to clear open growing cedars knows that they have tons of limbs and you are wasting your time cutting your way in so I usually bear crawl under the tree and cut it down so the wind blows it away from me. One day I was cutting down a really big one and after cutting all the way around it the tree split ( I didn't realize there were multiple trunks) and started to fall on me and I really had nowhere to go fast enough. The tree was in total 3 feet in diameter but the part that fell on me was more like 2' in diameter. I laid out flat and killed the chainsaw but the tree fell across my legs. The one benefit to cedars is with all those limbs their weight isn't on any one point so after a good 15 minutes I finally dug myself out from under it using my hands and some nearby rocks. After that I got up and sat on the ground staring at where I had been stuck. I went back to the truck and dug to the bottom of my ice chest for one of my 'finished with cutting' beers. I waited a couple weeks before cutting any more with bruises and stuff but it could have been real bad.
  15. seeyal8r

    seeyal8r Feeling the Heat

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    North Central Oklahoma
    When I was a kid, not that long ago compared to some since i'm 30 now, we heated our house with a fireplace. No stove, no insert, no blower. In winter we slept in the living room and cooled the house with window units in the summers. We burned 15 ricks a year which is 5 chords to you northerners. I was around 10 at the time. My dad owned a 85' s10 blazer so we borrowed the neighbors old 77 ford truck to haul the firewood that we cut nearly every weekend. The truck had a headache rack that had bars on it like jail bars. Anyway we would load that truck to the top of the cab almost every cool weekend we could. One day while loading the limbs of a tree we were tossing the smalls into the truck. One little branch 18" long and 2" in diameter took a funny bounce and tapped the back glass lightly. Nothing happened. so we continued to load the truck. We loaded up in the bench seat and when we closed the doors the back glass shattered. My folks didn't have any money to speak of at the time so it was devastating to buy a new one.
  16. Wade A.

    Wade A. Feeling the Heat

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    Funny how many of these stories begin with "I was cutting wood with my dad....." :) True though, dad always pushed the boundaries. One time he and I were cutting a smallish oak next to the house. Nah, we didn't need to rope it off with a come-a-long. What could go wrong? When it dropped in exactly the opposite direction from which we predicted, we held our breath as it fell towards the house. It threaded the needle between the eaves and a large bush that was grew right next to the foundation. I'll never forget what he said: "Perfect!"

    Another episode that did not end so well was when I found out the hard way that splitting wedges will throw pieces of metal at you when struck. Took a piece of shrapnel below the knee that required surgery to remove it. Keep those edges ground down or you might wind up like that poor guy in Maine a few years back who was found in his burnt up truck in his woodlot. They figured that a piece of frag hit his femoral artery, and in his panic to drive and get help he got the truck stuck. He then spun the tires so hard they caught fire and burned him alive. What a way to go.
  17. Agent

    Agent Member

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    I really wish I could say this was years ago when I didn't know any better, but it was all of a few months ago. I was felling some nice tall pines when one got hung up in a nearby tree. So I go to drop another tree on it to knock it free. This all made perfect sense at the time. Low and behold, it hits, doesn't knock it free, and rolls towards me.
    I counted myself as pretty fast in my track and field days, but that never accounted for steel toe boots, a chainsaw, and scrambling uphill through undergrowth. I was mostly out of the way until the tree jumped and caught me in the thigh. Decent bruise that coulda/shoulda been much worse.
    Also, make sure your dog isn't right where the tree is going to drop... before the tree is in the process of dropping.
  18. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Thank you all for reminding me why I have a no cutting or splitting alone policy for DH. I am there, or he is not running the saw or splitter period.

    He did ruin a pair of jeans a few years back when the saw got tangled in branches and kicked back. Didn't catch skin, but went through the jeans. Of course it was after a big storm took out trees all over and we were trying to help his dad clean up the mess over at his place.
  19. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    After the [del]hurricane[/del] tropical storm knocked down some dead trees in the woods I went in with the saw to cut into one and see if it was worth splitting or punky. Turns out it was home to a yellowjacket nest. I was lucky to get away with 4 stings.

    Splitting with the fiskars I miss aim and bounce off a corner every once in a while. To minimize the risk I ALWAYS wear my chainsaw boots using that thing, and I like to position the round on the far side of the block so a miss will just bury the axehead in the block and not my leg.

    I have had scares with the stove a couple times loosing track and letting the catalyst overheat enough enough to trigger secondary combustion in the main firebox resulting in a lot of glowing iron.
  20. Agent

    Agent Member

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    THat reminds me of a time I dropped a tree on a ground hornet nest. My poor pooch was worse for the wear, as she didn't know what that hum and swarm meant.
    Not to mention the token bats in the bark that occasionally come flying out when you wake them.
  21. AppalachianStan

    AppalachianStan Minister of Fire

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    Last Dec. I fell off a ladder trying to do some electrical work in my attic the ladder whet one way I tried to hang on to the attic opening but fell 6' on to may back.
  22. ikessky

    ikessky Minister of Fire

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    A couple down the road from us had a chimney fire last night. The department was out there at 11:30PM and only smelled a sweet smell. Turns out that was the insulation melting. They were back out at 2:30AM and ended up spraying about 30 gallons on the wall. It's a mess in there, but at least they didn't lose their home. I guess they were burning green wood in open fireplaces that hadn't been used in 15 years.
  23. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Wow, this thread was resurrected from the dead!
  24. HeatsTwice

    HeatsTwice Minister of Fire

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    Santa Rosa, California
    When my brother was 17 (me 18) he took a job takeing down a tree in the back yard of a house which was right under one of those 10,000 volt power lines. The house had a pool in the back yard. He climbed the tree about 40 feet and started cutting limbs. One bent over and contacted the power line, started shaking and blew up. The explosion broke the power line cable which fell to the ground and started dancing all around the pool, which my brothers buddy had jumped into the pool in order to escape the shower of sparks comming from the explosion. Miraculously, the line did not land in the water - just danced around it.

    My brother just remembers seeing the explosion and wanting to be out of the tree. He said his exit from it was a controlled fall - branches below him rushing up as he fell down. Grabbing just enough of each to keep his falling speed under control.

    My Dad got a bill from PG&E for $8,000.

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