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The "oh sh*t" moment

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Joful, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    In a year of reading here, I've not seen this addressed, so here it is:

    You load the stove full on a good coal bed, and just as it really starts roaring, you're ready to start throttling back the air. Then it happens... the glass breaks, or the door latch fails, or your air control jams wide open... something that causes you to have no control over this now-raging inferno. You have no flue damper to close. What do you do?

    I figured this might be some handy info to have in the back pocket, for future reference.

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  2. wkpoor

    wkpoor Minister of Fire

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    I would open the door wide open and wait a minute first. If it gets under control then just monitor till the fire dies down. If it doesn't settle down then hit it with the fire extinguisher. Other option is to smoother it with ashes from the ash can that always sits near the stove and nearly always has ashes in it.
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Of the scenarios presented, only the glass breaking has shown up a few times a year. The other two are quite rare. In the glass breakage scenario, you have a couple choices. Ride it out or shut it down. If you have scrap metal around you may be able to wedge a temp patch over the breakage.Or you could let the fire burn itself out, or throw a bag of wet newspaper on the fire (ptnd pook) to kill it.
  4. etiger2007

    etiger2007 Minister of Fire

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    Id smother it with ashes and grab a beer to settle down some.
  5. BurnIt13

    BurnIt13 Minister of Fire

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    Thank you for bringing this up as I havn't thought of it either. What if you didn't have any sand or ashes to smother the fire?

    Well if its just a crack in the glass or a piece fell out you could probably fashion up some aluminum foil to cover the hole if its small enough. The draft would keep it in place I imagine. Wouldn't cure it but it could help.

    Or if the whole glass is fubar....fire extinguisher.
  6. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

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    For just the sutffing the stove too full and getting the over heat condition of a over stuffed stove.

    I have tried the opening the door option and havent had any luck with it, as the idea is that you flush heat up the flue.

    I think the issue is that once the stove is in the mode of running away on you the coals and wood is now in good shape to burn like heck with the door open.

    When starting a stove and the stove isnt up to heat , a stove lacking proper heat and you open the door will flush what little heat you have and will prolong the building of heat in the stove so what little fire you have will have trouble with lack of heat. It will still burn but not as good.

    So if you try the open the door to stop an over fire condition and it doesnt seem to help this maybe the reason.
  7. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

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    Also for just the standard run away stove issues.

    I keep a roll of the metal aluminum foil Duct tape around , Good for blocking off secondary air holes in the back of the stove.

    Or stuff a wad of aluminum foil in the square tube holes bottom back of stove.

    But I have a 3/8 hole bottom front of the stove that feeds a constant amount of air to the dog house air feed front center bottom of fire box. This hole needs the aluminum tape to cover it.

    Make sure you know where all your holes are.
  8. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I start crying like a fat kid who just had a dog jump up and steal his ice cream cone.

    That said . . . I don't think I've ever really had a true emergency . . . good planning ahead of time often prevents an "oh crap" moment later on down the pike.

    I suppose one should probably add in the pre-requisite . . . if you feel you have a true "oh crap" moment it probably would not hurt to dial 911 and get some added help on the way.
  9. nola mike

    nola mike Feeling the Heat

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    What it somewhat more common for me is to have a log be JUUUUST a bit too long, keeping the door from closing. Usually it's at the bottom of the fresh reload, and already on fire before I realize it.
  10. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

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    Keeping the stove in good working order would prevent some of these things in the first place.
  11. eemarty

    eemarty New Member

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    I've not had to do it myself, but I've heard putting in soaking wet newspaper or wet kitchen towels can get it under control.
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Never force it. Remove the log, get it outside and thoroughly extinguish.
  13. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    I recall a rather humorous recounting of someone here running through their house past their family with a blazing/smoking split to toss into a snowbank sometime in the last couple years. Not too funny to be the one with the flaming log at the time, but an image that has burned in my memory... That got me to measure the max length my stove can handle and figure out where on the tiles in front of the stove a split ends up - i.e. lay the split down and measure against the tiles when in doubt and if it crosses over the line it is too long, don't even try it if the stove is lit.

    I find it hard to imagine a realistic scenario other than perhaps the glass breaking, but my stove does have a double layer of glass so even that may not be as dramatic as it could otherwise be. Oh, I'm sure I could cause all sorts of problems but reasonable care should prevent that... then I think about my kids learning to load the stove and wonder...
  14. Waulie

    Waulie Minister of Fire

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    My old stove had a sliding draft control in the front-opening door. Well, after getting a nice big load blazing away one evening, i tried to adjust the draft down. The entire metal plate which blocked the air holes as you slid it fell off inside the raging stove. The way the air intake worked, I now not only had no draft control, but basically double the maximum draft usually provided by the functioning control causing a total blow torch right at the base of the fire.

    I almost shat myself, but calmed down enough to think. I simply grab a small baking pan from the kitchen and placed this over the air intake. I weighted it down on the ash lip with a couple rocks and watched the stove. Actually, I ended up getting it dialed in pretty nice by sliding the pan back and forth over the air holes.

    I guess you plan for what you can by having the right safety gear. Beyond that, try to stay calm and think of a solution. If there isn't one, get help!

    Oh, that wet towel trick does work too. I used it once when I had a stovepipe (not really a chimney) fire with my old stove. Wife was not too happy about that.

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