Yacht fire and flares

Peter

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Last weekend a yacht caught fire in our marina, eventually put out. The cause of the fire was a flare “spontaneously going off”, conformed by the fire brigade and coastguard. The flares, about 10 where stored in open bucket and in the forepeak. They where in date or just out of date, not quite sure on this point. My questions are:
Has any one heard of this happening before? If yes how would a flare spontaneously go off.

Peter
 
G

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Seems highly unlikely, but if you want further technical details contact Pains-Wessex Ltd, Highpost, Salisbury SP4 6AS
 
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I spoke to a very helpful chap called Keith at Pains-Wessex in Portsmouth and he was adamant that flares don't spontaneously go off. For 'auto-ignition' (his phrase), the flares must be exposed to temperatures in excess of 150 Celsius.

I asked him if the sun through the forepeak hatch might have had anything to do with it and he said the temperature wouldn't be anything like hot enough. He says flares can be left on the cowlings of running engines and still not go off, although it's not a smart move.

The fact that they were, or would soon be, out of date made them less likely to ignite if anything. They don't destabilize in an auto-ignitive way, if that's a word. Keith reckons fire set those flares off - nothing else it could be.
 

ccscott49

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Both the replies to this question have quoted pains wessex flares, were the flares pains wessex? If the fire brigade said they sponataneously ignited, I would be tempted to believe them, however what about the insurance investigation, whose views will they take, I think we should allow that to give us the answer, any news from the actual boat owner himself? we might be getting into a legal quagmire here!
 

peterb

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From personal experience, I can assure you that there are few more difficult jobs than determining the cause of ignition of a fire. "Spontaneous ignition" sounds good, but the normal mechanism of spontaneous ignition is extremely unlikely to occur in a flare at normal temperatures. I suspect that the fire investigators just couldn't find anything else to blame.

Incidentally, most fire investigators will tell you that there are three main causes of fire: men, women and children!
 
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