The Boys' Bugle

A Christian magazine for boys featuring things of both a spiritual and physical nature.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Vegetable Oil Fire


I didn't get any good pictures of the fire. This one is while the firemen are making it out.

On Monday afternoon a few weeks ago, I decided to heat some vegetable oil up in the heater tank. I got the fire going and left. It was a windy day. I think I had come back and checked on it and left again. I went up to my place (big house) and was filling my big tank by the pond with water that I set up to go swimming in. I was planning to go back down again pretty soon. As I was filling the tank I glanced in the direction of my oil, and I saw more smoke than should have been coming from the heater tank stove. Just as I noticed the smoke, I heard Tim yell my name from the house. I assumed he was yelling about the smoke, but it didn’t matter what he was yelling about, I ignored him. And just before I had a thought that I should go check my fire. I shut my pump off in a hurry and ran as fast as I thought I could. Tim came on his bike. When I got there and looked over the situation a bit, I realized it was out of our ability to stop it and that it was going to spread into a lot more places, so I yelled to Luray to call 911.
Before this, Luray had noticed the smoke, and went to investigate. He realized it was pretty hot and started to go for help. Just as he started to leave, there was a terrific explosion that he felt the wind from. His pace increased to maximum! And he ran to call me. Tim happened to be at my phone, and he went out and yelled at me, though I had noticed the smoke an instant before.
While we were waiting for the fire department, there were a few more explosions. My full diesel fuel tank exploded twice. My neighbor, Gerard, from about a mile down the road, came to see what the big explosion was about. Daniel and Jim were at the sawmill. Daniel heard and felt the explosion with his earmuffs on and the sawmill running! Jim noticed me run like something was wrong. So they came to investigate. There was only one really big explosion, the rest were much smaller. The big explosion was the explosion that Luray felt the wind from!
Within a few minutes, the fire department was there. They ran two fire hoses out and squirt water on it. In a few more minutes, the fire was out.
All things considered, I got away very good. It could have been a lot worse. Luray could have more than “felt the wind” from that explosion. The diesel tank could have blown apart, and sprayed over 200 gallons of burning fuel all over the place. It would have really spread the fire, could have sprayed fuel on us who could have been too close, and would have increased the heat enough to light more of the vegetable oil on fire, (vegetable oil will not burn unless it’s heated until it vaporizes). Also the fire department would have had to file a fuel oil spill if the diesel tank would have leaked.
The cause of the fire was a spark from the heater tank. I think it started in some leaves, traveled to the centrifuge, then to the clean oil pump, and then under all the storage tanks. There were lots of leaves all around. And they were dry because we didn’t have any rain the last few days. Of course, I was the one that lit the fire to start with. I should have thought of it that my setup was a great fire hazard. I should have thought of it that it was a windy day. I should have never lit the fire or stayed there all the time. But I didn’t.
I had plans to build a much nicer and safer oil setup for quite awhile already, but it didn’t happen. I knew I had a less then satisfactory setup. Now I have even more reason to do it. I came up with a plan for my vegetable oil refinery. I am putting my “fuel station” on a trailer. Then I can put the rest on my place where I was planning to put it before, but it can be a simple pole shed instead of an insulated building. And I have most everything I need to do it already. I can use blown-up, leaky, and dirty fuel tanks for containment pads instead of expensive concrete. It seems rather odd, but being I had a fire and lost a bunch, now I was able to come up with a plan that I like and that I can afford. I know God is watching over me – even when the terrible things happen.
One tiny spark can make a terrific fire. One little sin can destroy your life. One bad word can do a lot of damage. One evil friend can destroy you. When God says to fully follow Him, he really means it.
It seems like I’ve gotten into a lot of trouble lately. I wonder what trouble I’ll be into next.

This picture is after the fire is out and we are looking it over.

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