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Old 17-10-2016, 19:09   #1
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Engine Fires Can Spread Quickly!

This is another recent case of a sailboat fire that happened quickly.

Seems to me to be another case where a remotely activated fire extinguisher may have saved the boat.

Excerpt from the story seen at the link:


Latitude 38 - 'Lectronic Latitude

Harry Hazzard, a veteran of 11 Baja Ha-Has, including 10 with his Beneteau Frers 51 Distant Drum, had to leap into San Diego Bay on Friday or Saturday morning to save his life. Hes fine physically, but his boat is a complete loss and hes lost most of his possessions.

I was motoring from California Yacht Marina in Chula Vista to Shelter Island Boatyard about eight miles away for my annual haul-out, Hazzard told Latitude in a phone interview this morning. Id only gone a little way and was about an eighth of a mile off the Marine Group yard when I heard an unusual noise from the engine area and thought I smelled plastic or rubber melting. I assumed it was a belt going bad. So I went below to investigate.

The Frers design has the engine compartment farther forward than on most boats. Its only a little ways behind the mast, and one of the main access points is from beneath a salon seat directly above the engine.

I was lucky I was a little off centerline when I lifted the engine cover, because as soon as I lifted it, it went off. Had I been centerline, it would have gone off in my face.

When he says it went off, he doesnt mean there was an explosion as such, but super heat and flames coming up from the engine area.

The fire was already going pretty good, with fiberglass and other stuff burning, so I couldnt breathe because of the chemical fumes. I rushed up to the fresh air in the cockpit, and almost as soon as I was up the companionway, flames were coming up the companionway after me. I could feel the heat all the way in the back of the boat. There was nothing I could do to combat the fire.
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Old 17-10-2016, 19:53   #2
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Re: Engine Fires Can Spread Quickly!

I know Harry, and how he looked after DD. I don't know for sure, but I would lay very heavy odds that he had a fixed system in his engine space. But, if it caught fire and the engine was still running, it would not have necessarily stopped the fire before being vented out through the engine.

It's really a shame, he's a good man and a better sailor. There aren't many out there who have better prepared and traveled boats than Distant Drum.

TJ
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Old 18-10-2016, 09:25   #3
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Re: Engine Fires Can Spread Quickly!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TJ D View Post
I know Harry, and how he looked after DD. I don't know for sure, but I would lay very heavy odds that he had a fixed system in his engine space. But, if it caught fire and the engine was still running, it would not have necessarily stopped the fire before being vented out through the engine.

It's really a shame, he's a good man and a better sailor. There aren't many out there who have better prepared and traveled boats than Distant Drum.

TJ
Friendly request:

Since you known him, if you can ask him the cause (after the insurance investigation) please post findings here in this thread as a followup.

And, if he did have an automatic engine room fire suppression system in place and type, etc.
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Old 18-10-2016, 09:28   #4
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Re: Engine Fires Can Spread Quickly!

OCT 17, 2016
Latitude 38 reports another sailboat lost due to fire. This is NOT the same boat in the top post which started this thread. I will add more examples to this thread as they become known, and invite others to do so too.
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"The USCG, along with several local agencies, rescued three sailors after their boat caught fire Friday, near Rancho Palos Verdes, a city in Los Angeles County west of Long Beach.

The Coast Guard received a mayday call via VHF radio channel 16 from the 44-ft sailboat, Laetitia, reporting that the vessel's engine had caught fire and begun to spread. The three sailors aboard were directed to put on life jackets and move to the bow of the boat to keep away from the fire."
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Old 18-10-2016, 09:42   #5
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Re: Engine Fires Can Spread Quickly!

Would a twenty buck Home Depot smoke alarm have saved these boats?
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Old 18-10-2016, 09:49   #6
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Re: Engine Fires Can Spread Quickly!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Seal View Post
Would a twenty buck Home Depot smoke alarm have saved these boats?
Good Question. Hmmm... I will ask that in a new thread and see what folks think. Thanks for bringing it up.
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Old 18-10-2016, 10:02   #7
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Re: Engine Fires Can Spread Quickly!

Here is a previous thread from 2016 discussing a fire incident on a boat that caused the loss of the boat as the fire rapidly took over the cabin and forced the couple to abandon ship by jumping in the water (without any PFD or liferaft or dinghy). It has some good comments by other CF members in the discussion.

The danger of fire

Here is the blog post/article about the fire that prompted that thread:
https://sandpyper.blogspot.co.uk/201...=1470470917951

Here is what I wrote about the original article that started that thread:
Very good article.
Important lessons in it.

A few key points:

In five minutes the boat was engulfed in flames!

Though the boat had a dinghy on stern davits and a life raft and PFDs, none of those were accessible once the fire took over the cockpit.

Multiple fire extinguishers were used and still the fire won.

The fire extinguishers used were not the best choice. Buckets of water were suggested.

One fire extinguisher failed to operate.

Hospital care in some cases can be very expensive, even in a third world country.
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Old 18-10-2016, 10:26   #8
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Re: Engine Fires Can Spread Quickly!

Here is a link to a new thread I posted asking some questions about the use of a typical "home" smoke alarm on boats. I posted it after doing a search of the archives and not finding a similar thread title.

Smoke Alarms : Are Home Units Suitable on Boats?

An Excerpt from that thread:
  1. Are home smoke alarm units (e.g. Typical low cost Home Depot type smoke alarms intended for home use) suitable for use in a marine application such as putting them in a typical sailboat engine compartment?
  2. Will they work reliably?
  3. Will they corrode quickly due to the salt air affecting the electronics (wiring + battery) and stop functioning?
  4. Will they be loud enough to be heard over the sound of the running diesel engine?
  5. Will they cause false alarms due to the diesel operation (air quality in the engine compartment)?

Any input on these questions?

False economy? Or "What would it hurt to add a couple?"
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Old 18-10-2016, 10:29   #9
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Re: Engine Fires Can Spread Quickly!

I watched that fire from my balcony. The boat was engulfed incredibly fast.
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