Grass fire - Vehicle burnt out photos.

Submitted: Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 07:36
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Hi All,
I was just telling the family that we need a plan for combatting vehicle grass/seed fires on an upcoming trip.

Eldest son does not believe accumulated grass / seeds will result in the car being burnt out. Ah the youth!

I have done a google search and come up with zip. Does any one have links to photos / videos that I can use to educate the family on the seriousness of the situation and the need for a coordinated action plan?

Thanks,
Paul.
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Reply By: Member - John - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:05

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:05



From the following website, http://www.myway2go.com.au/Gallery/137920,canning-stock-route-part-2-down-the-track-figures-107---126.aspx/1
John

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Follow Up By: Willem - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 13:29

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 13:29
I have a lovely piece of molten Prado from that car.


lol
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Follow Up By: Blaze (Berri) - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 13:57

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 13:57
So Willie can we now say you have a foot in both camps, owning both a Prado and a Patrol......LOL




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Reply By: 3.0turbob - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:05

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:05
Hi Paul,
Try this
http://www.pradopoint.com/viewtopic.php?p=39329&sid=213184a47b1d8bfe393db06d4a826848

copy and past in address bar

Rob
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Reply By: Member - John - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:15

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:15



Sorry Rob, but thought the pictures to be very good and graphic, not meaning to hijack your reply.
John

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Follow Up By: 3.0turbob - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:33

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:33
No worries John, I knew I'd seen these photos somewhere before, just had to find 'em. It's a very real and serious problem that can happen to the unwary. The more people that are made aware, the better.

Rob
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Follow Up By: Ozboc - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 10:08

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 10:08
whats the story behind these pics ??? were they traveling with other people ????

Boc
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Follow Up By: Bonz (Vic) - Thoughtfully- Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 14:02

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 14:02
Heartbreaking pics
.
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:24

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:24
Hi Paul,
By the sounds of things, your eldest son has been living in a glass house and has never opened or read any four wheel drive magazines.
From your post, you will receive many replies, all basicly telling your son to have a look and read and you will find many cases of burnt out vehicles in places where vehicles have been driven in conditions where grass build up is a problem.

On the other hand, buy taking a few simple precautions, you can reduce the risk by stopping every half and hour or so, use a long wire probe to remove any build up around the exhaust, and have a spay container with water to spray any smouldering grass.

I am not having a go at you, as you are on the right track, but your son needs to do some very basic homework and he will find the answers.

All the best and do under estimate what dry grass and a hot exhaust can do to your means of transport, and ultimately causing very serious situation to be in.

Cheers

Stephen
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Follow Up By: pt_nomad - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:55

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:55
Thanks to all

A little heavy there Ian.
The photo sequence had the desired educational effect. There is nothing like such images to drive home the gravity of the situation. Words are not always enough for 14yo.

Your probably close with the mags. I get sick of the 2 year regurgitation of inconclusive and weak tech articles and have not bought so many over the last year.

The precautions you note are part of the plan I was describing to the family. With the impact of these photos, I think we can have a realistic fire drill.
Paul.
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Reply By: Wayne (NSW) - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:28

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:28
Paul,

I hope the photos of the vehicles that have been burnt on the Canning Stock Route will help with the prevention of another burnt out vehicle.

I might also say that the number of burnt out vehicles on the CSR is very small compared to the number of vehicle that do the trip each year.

Image Could Not Be Found

Prado

Image Could Not Be Found

Ford Explorer

I have found that vehicles that have independent suspension and under vehicle protection do tend to collect more grass than other vehicles. Petrol vehicles are also more at risk, but that does not mean that a diesel vehicle will not have problems.

It is not only the hot exhaust pipe that can start a fire but the heat generated by a spinning tail shaft. The grass will start to smolder and it is not long after that the flames appear.
Putting the fire out can also be a problem. Water and of removal of the grass is the best way. A long wire hook is a good way to remove the grass before it become a fire.

Wayne
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Follow Up By: The Landy - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 13:00

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 13:00
Hi Wayne

How often would you check under vehicle on your CSR trips and do you encounter many problems?

Cheers
Baz
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Follow Up By: tim_c - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 13:05

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 13:05
"Petrol vehicles are also more at risk, but that does not mean that a diesel vehicle will not have problems."

Yes, in fact if you look at the pictures in the thread suggested by "3.0turbob" above, you will be able to see that the Prado was a 3.0L turbo diesel.
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Follow Up By: Wayne (NSW) - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 17:27

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 17:27
Tim,

Your are right, the photos of the Prado burning is a 3.0 lt diesel.

The photos that I have shown are of a petrol Prado on the Canning Stock Route only a couple of kilometers from Georgia Bore.

Any vehicle can a will catch fire if the build up of spinifex grass is not cleared.Petrol vehicle tend to be more prone because of the hotter exhaust.

Wayne
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Follow Up By: Wayne (NSW) - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 17:55

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 17:55
Baz,

It would depend on the track.
Most of the Canning Stock Route has tall grass on the sides of the track. In the middle it can be low enough not to cause a problem.


Image Could Not Be Found

If the track has not been used that much a build up of grass in the middle of the track can get as high as the bonnet on the Troopie.

That would require a lot more stops, and of course with a lot of grass around there are not too many places that you can check under the vehicle with out laying on the spinifex grass.

Wayne






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Follow Up By: tim_c - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 19:50

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 19:50
Take a lawnmower, tie the handle to the bullbar so the car pushes it along in front LOL ;)
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Reply By: Willem - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:41

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:41
Paul

I do a bit of desert travel.


The first thing I have done when buying the next 4by is to remove all the bash plates. I have even removed the cover plates off the rear brakes (they got damaged) on the current GQ. Grass does accumulate on top of the fuel tank but I clear under the chassis every evening in the course of setting up camp (or even at midday if the going is rough).


Cheers
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Reply By: Ozhumvee - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:43

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 08:43
A 5 litre garden sprayer filled with water and a touch of detergent (acts as a wetting agent) works very well, can also be used as a portable shower if fitted with a shower rose.
We also carry a few 1.25 litre PET bottle full of water, when fitted with a cap with a 2-3mm hole they make excellent extinguishers when squeezed.
Remember any fire under a vehicle will be up against the floor and hard to get at, hence the need for pressure to inject the water into restricted spaces.
As has been said it is not just exhausts that start fires, spinifex and grass will catch fire from friction on moving parts like tail and driveshafts, the heat from the brakes can also ignite it.
Vehicles fitted with traction control are especially at risk from brake heat as while the driver may not be actually using the brakes in sandy country the traction control system may be working overtime.
Vehicles with catalytic converters (all later model petrol and some recent diesels) should never be stopped on grass as the heat from the cat will ignite spinifex straightaway. Note too that green spinifex can be more flammable than dry due to the resin on the leaves.
Peter
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Follow Up By: Member - Duncs - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 10:59

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 10:59
Humvee,

While I accept that a 5 Litre sprayer is better than nothing I think Willem's approach is far better.

Most people would not extinguish a fire under a 4wd with a 5 litre sprayer. The panic caused by seeing your pride and joy smouldering will limit the average persons ability to act rationally and properly direct the water. "Pressure to inject the water" is no guarantee that it has penetrated to the seat of the fire. In fact you can be pretty sure that no amount of pressure will force the water more than a couple of mm into the offending material, the only way to confirm extinguishment is to pull out the accumulated grass etc.... and extinguish it on the ground breaking up the clumps as you do.

Don't waste your water putting it on the grass that is on the ground you can extinguish that by stamping on it and covering it with sand or earth, use the water to extinguish any residual fire left on the gaps and crevices that the grass came from.

The other thing I would do is keep the engine running so that if you do drop a big clump of burning material onto the ground under your vehicle you can drive away from it.

The best cure is prevention. Check for accumulated stuff at every stop and clean it out regularly.

Duncs
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Follow Up By: Ozhumvee - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 13:34

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 13:34
The sprayer does work and has on at least two occasions for us and fellow travellers.
That was after removing everything that we could as far as bash plates etc were concerned.
Transmission crossmembers still act like a slasher and stuff still gets stuffed up around places it shouldn't. Petrol vehicles with cats will start to burn with only a few wisps of grass stuck in the heat shield around the cat. On one trip the driver had an oven timer set at 5 min intervals and he wore his gloves and the wire hook lived across his knees permanently, it still caught fire a few times even with him at the back of the convoy.
Peter
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Reply By: pt_nomad - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 09:05

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 09:05
Thanks All,
The is good consistancy in the message on suitable preparations.
Thanks or the tip on detergent as a wetting agent.

My understanding of the method is that the water is used to take the heat out of the area (plus extinguish visible flame) and the wire is used to remove the fuel. Based on the three things required to have a fire Fuel, Heat and Oxygen.

Has any one had the small spay bottles and a 5l bottle and successfully put out a fire?

I would imagine the situation would require some very cool heads !

Paul.
AnswerID: 363964

Follow Up By: Member - Kiwi Kia - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 09:18

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 09:18
I would add easily accessible leather gloves to your list.
Just opening a bonnet is very difficult if there are flames about. I have been beside a person with extinguisher in hand but not able to get at the seat of the flames as no one could unlatch the bonnet. I would also add that if you do manage to lift the bonnet when there is an engine compartment fire - beware of a sudden flash of flame as the bonnet is lifted.

.
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Follow Up By: Wayne (NSW) - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 09:27

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 09:27
Paul,

I have not had to extinguish a fire from under a vehicle, but I have removed a lot of grass using a long wire hook. Have a spray bottle handy just in case the grass ignites when removed from the vehicle.

I most cases if there is a fire under the vehicle and by the time that you notice it, it would be too late

Wayne



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Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic) - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 10:19

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 10:19
Paul. the knapsack sprayers that are commonly carried on tractors are 9 litres fully charged. We have a few of those about for tractors and fourbys and fully charged means 100psi ready.

You don't need much detergent or surfactant to better enable the water to penetrate. It does a great job at reducing the surface tension of the water. You need to maximise the water getting in there early with the smaller amounts you may carry. Fire units would charge with a surfactant every time in water usage fires. Pretty much the same stuff contractors would use for better targeting plants with herbicide.

Kiwi Kia, with a diesel you are best having gloves in your door pocket for refueling anyway.
Cheers,
Who?
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Reply By: Geoff (Newcastle, NSW) - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 10:07

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 10:07
Hi Paul,

Cape York Connections put out a video of The Canning Stock Route.

In the video in real time Peter Ikin the tour leader is filmed using a wire hook to pull out Spinifex that is blackened and actually smouldering!

That vehicle was probably only minutes from total disaster.

Geoff

Geoff,
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Reply By: Member - Josh (VIC) - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 12:12

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 12:12
Also remember that you may only have a few seconds to get out of the car. We saw a 4x4 set up awhile ago. He had 2 fire extinguishers on his cargo barrier and his epirb as well. He also had some emergency gear, fire blanket etc. I asked him in a fire how quick could he get to it. He said very quickly, not a problem. He sat in the drivers seat and I yelled fire. The epirb and fire gear is now in his drivers door and the extinguisher is on the passengers floor. By the time he got his kid out of the way it would have been all over. If you have any hope of getting these fires out it must be straight away, not after you unpack the back to get the water out.
While travelling through S.A. we got a call from my parents travelling a couple of hundred meters behind us to say the passenger door was on fire. I turned around and by the time I pulled up my wife had the extinguisher of the floor ready to go. Turns out the electric window switch shorted out. If we needed it we had the extinguisher ready to go.
We carry the epirb in the door so if we have to abandon the car I simply grab it on the way out.

Josh
AnswerID: 363988

Reply By: OzTroopy - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 12:54

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 12:54
Remove whatever plates etc that are not a "nescessity" from underneath the vehicle and as Kiwi Kia said .... keep a pair of gloves handy ....

Maybe in a 14yo size ... LOL

Its not just spinifex that can be a problem ... any petrol veh with rubbish catching bash plates and cat converters is at risk .... regardless of grass type ...

I carry a pair of thick gardening gloves ... handy in central west NSW burr paddocks. Have been used to pull out clumps of smouldering compost from the bash plate a few times.

Give some thought to fuel line connections as well .... I dont trust those flimsy plastic arrangements some makers are using ... only takes one stick to snag the line and .......
AnswerID: 363991

Reply By: Flywest - Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 13:47

Saturday, May 09, 2009 at 13:47
On my vehicle I have 2 x 100 liter stainless water tanks plumbed together - and a 12V marine deckwash pressure pump plumbed to snaplocks on the front bull bar and rear bumper bar!

I have a 20 meter hose and nozzel behind the rear seat that snap on to the front or back connections!

(I have a short hose as well for casual use, washing beach sand off diving gear and wet suits etc before stowing and showering occupants after a ocean swim, to keep beach sand out of the vehicle, and allow a comfortable days travelling for passengers after a swim in the ocean, without the dry itchy feeling of salt on your person).

The connections are all brass not plastic.

This in addition to the 3 fire extinguishers I carry.

I installed the water system - more for dousing molten tyre fires on the tandem boat trailer than fighting grass fires under the vehicle - but it would do either equally well - just as it can be used to assist any one else who has such a misfortune while traveling the highways and byways.

Being stainless steel - if stranded you can use it as a drinking supply if needed.

It's also plumbed to allow me to water down the 7 radiators out front & behind the grill when towing the boat on hot days to keep the transmission oil cool while on the move.

Theres 101 good uses for water when travelling - including extinguishing fires!

For a smalll grass fire sometimes a small dry powder extinguisher isn't enough.

Bout a week or so ago the TV show late at night called "cops" showed a sherrifs town car chasing a SUV that went off into a pine plantation. When it eventually bottomed out on a small diameter pine log and got stuck, a grass fire started under the sherriffs car - and he used his dry powder extinguisher for 3 short burst attempts to extinguish the grass fire under the vehicle caused by the hot exhuast pipe..and failed!

The whole car was gutted in about 5 mins tops.

You can get a Red 20 liter knapsack sprayer that you see the Volunteer Fire Brigades use. Its a way to carry an extra 20 liters of spare drinking water comfortable on your back and IF needed - it's already optimised for fire fighting use.

Fire remains an ever present threat in this dry country of ours!

You cannot have too much water!

Cheers
AnswerID: 363998

Follow Up By: Member - John - Sunday, May 10, 2009 at 08:48

Sunday, May 10, 2009 at 08:48
Have to ask, what are you driving?
John

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Follow Up By: Roughasguts - Sunday, May 10, 2009 at 19:22

Sunday, May 10, 2009 at 19:22
I bought a car cube for washing me boat trailer off after dunking! The cube runs of your 12 volt power outlet and has 130 psi of Pressure and holds 12 litres of water. It Has 5 metres of hose and I also use that on the beach for the kids and washing down under the guards. I guess it would more easily put out a fire compared to a pump up water spray kit as well.

Anyway what I was thinking was setting up under your vehicle a drenching or water irrigation system similar to your garden sprinkler system. Flick a switch and let the water tank and electric pump do it for you while you get the kids out.

Of course it can't be plastic but copper and brass will do the trick.
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Follow Up By: Flywest - Sunday, May 10, 2009 at 22:25

Sunday, May 10, 2009 at 22:25
Driving an F 250 John.



Cheers
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Reply By: tim_c - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 12:49

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 12:49
Yes, those pictures of the "Prado on Fire" were emailed to me in April 2007 along with the following sobering description:

"This incident apparently occurred on the Canning Stock Route in Northern WA. It is essential in this sort of terrain to stop every 1/2 hour to remove the Spinifex grass from the places it gets caught under the vehicle (exhaust shields, bash plates, chassis rails, etc). These guys were diligently doing just that, but it is easy to miss a little nook somewhere with disastrous results.

4 fire extinguishers and a case of beer were not sufficient to fight the fire, but did at least buy them enough time to get all their gear out of the vehicle.

To see a brand new Prado reduced to this brings tears to my eyes. ;-( "
AnswerID: 364284

Reply By: Russ n Sue - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 16:56

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 16:56
Unless I missed it, no-one has mentioned that spinnifex (in particular) causes a resin build up where it has been dragging under vehicles. This resin is the main reason why it is so difficult to put out a fire under a vehicle.

Sure, the grass is usually the starting fuel of the fire, but is the resin that keeps it going. It has the ability to reignite after first appearing to be extinguished. For this reason, water is often not enough to put out a spinnifex fire. Certainly those carrying 15 to 20 litres may well get caught short.

I attended a training course in the Pilbara years ago and at that course they demonstrated the correct technique to use dry powder to smother the fire. The object was to use as little powder as possible to extinguish the flames, and then locate and thoroughly coat any resin deposits with the remaining powder. If the fuel can't breathe, it can't burn.

It is a lesson that has stuck with me for all of the intervening years.

Obviously, removing the fuel source BEFORE a fire is the best deterrent, as pointed out by many of the previous posters.

Cheers

Russ
AnswerID: 364328

Follow Up By: Member - Mike DID - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 17:28

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 17:28
Spinifex Resin (kiti) is what aborigines use to glue sharp stones to make spears etc. The traditional process is to pound the spinifex seeds and then heat them to bind them.

Maybe the updated version will be to scrape it from the underside of vehicles !
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Reply By: pt_nomad - Monday, May 11, 2009 at 19:33

Monday, May 11, 2009 at 19:33
Thanks all for some absolutely fantastic input.
Paul.
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