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Strange Fire - Please Help

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posted on Aug, 15 2005 @ 08:49 AM
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On Saturday evening, I walked out my front door, and smelled a charcoal grill warming up. It smelled exactly like a real charcoal fire. It was only right in the immediate area of the front door. Sunday morning around 7:00 am, same exact thing. About 11:00 am on Sunday, I noticed that a tall (4 feet tall) Hybiscus which I have planted in a planter outside my front door, was on it's side - not the planter, just the plant itself was on it's side. It's roots were exposed, and they were smoking. A bamboo stake which was tied to it to help it stand upright was smoldering as well. The roots, and the bamboo stake were approximately six to eight inches under soil.
I planted this Hybiscus myself in May. A standard potted planter. Standard top soil. I added fertilizer when I first planted it, but aside from watering it, have done nothing to it for almost 4 months. What on earth would/could possibly start this thing smoldering 6 - 8 inches under the soil? On the surface, there was no clue whatsoever that it was smoldering. The plant looked healthy, and there was absolutely no smoke whatsoever. The only thing was the smell of charcoal.
The roots, and the bamboo stake were literally smoldering. When I poured water over it, it steamed up as the water hit the hot soil. I've never seen anything like it. Does anybody have any clue what could have caused this?




posted on Aug, 15 2005 @ 09:32 AM
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Slow burning fires are not unknown, particularly in coal seams. Now... while I'm skeptical you're on top of a coal mine, there's a number of very natural explainations for this -- and the fact that you smelled charcoal indicates there's some sort of coal involved in it.

But I think the FIRST thing you should do is get the municipal housing inspectors out there. If there is a slow burning fire somewhere, your house and your property may be in danger. You do want government agencies involved in this one for liability reasons.


[edit on 15-8-2005 by Byrd]



posted on Aug, 15 2005 @ 10:51 AM
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Registered: 30-6-2002
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posted on 15-8-2005 at 03:32 AM Post Number: 1612539 (post id: 1634432)
Slow burning fires are not unknown, particularly in coal seams. Now... while I'm skeptical you're on top of a coal mine, there's a number of very natural explainations for this -- and the fact that you smelled charcoal indicates there's some sort of coal involved in it.


No I certainly am not on top of a coal mine! This fire happened INSIDE a planter. It was not in a bed, and had no exposure to the actual outdoor soil. The planter was outside on my front porch, which is a concrete slab.. The planter is the standard variety type you buy at any garden center. It holds probably 10 gallons. I don't recall how many bags of top soil I put in it. Maybe 2 bags, plus the soil that came with the plant.



posted on Aug, 15 2005 @ 11:04 AM
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Sometimes a breakdown of organic matter will cause quite a bit of heat.....compost piles for instance will generate enough heat to kill seeds. Newly cut hay, if baled while still damp, will generate a good bit of heat, and some will say it can actually burst into flames.

Perhaps there was something like this occuring down inside the planter?? Had the plant died? Was there any mulch around the base of the plant? Could anyone have used that planter as an 'ash tray' and started a fire with a cigarette butt?



posted on Aug, 15 2005 @ 11:14 AM
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Perhaps there was something like this occuring down inside the planter?? Had the plant died? Was there any mulch around the base of the plant? Could anyone have used that planter as an 'ash tray' and started a fire with a cigarette butt?


1) No the plant was beautiful and healthy, with a great deal of flowers
2) No mulch at all - just store bought potting soil.
3) No to the ashtray as well - I thought the same thing.

I have to assume that there was some type of chemical reaction, as there were no flames, but the bamboo stake was literally smoldering, with what I would assume 4-5 inches burned completely off. The bamboo stake is what held the bush up, and was pushed down into the soil. When it burned off (from the bottom) the weight of the bush toppled itself over, exposing the roots which were also smoking. I've never seen anything like it. What could make soil burn? And it absolutely started below the surface. It was slow as well, It was approx 15 hours from the time I smelled it the first time, to the time I saw the "fire".



posted on Aug, 16 2005 @ 01:39 PM
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What fertilizer did you use? Its possible, that the stuff you used containted a lot of Potassium Nitrate, a reasonabley strong oxidising agent... Generally speaking, this wouldn't burn alone, but if it was mixed with a fuel, in this case the woody material of the tree, then all that would be required would be a fire to start it smouldering...

Did you take the plant out of its pot afterwards and inspect it? What did you find?

Fraser



posted on Aug, 16 2005 @ 01:47 PM
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Did you take the plant out of its pot afterwards and inspect it? What did you find?


Yes I did take it out of it's pot. The bamboo stake was literally burned, and the roots of the plant really did not look that out of the ordinary.



posted on Aug, 16 2005 @ 01:59 PM
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Chemical reaction seems to be the best possibility, and is known to happen....

but you might perform some tests to check...
First off... put the plant back in the planter, with the stick, and see if it happens again... try to repeat the exact situation... watering, sun, ect...

another test which might find you have a "locus of microwave energy" located on your front porch:
place a styrofoam cup of water there, and check to see if it is hotter than the air temp after half a day or so... a significant difference would mean that you might be getting microwaved...

spontaneous combustion of organic matter has been shown to happen from high concentrations of microwaves...
the KGB used a microwave setup to kill people from a distance...

many sources of microwaves exist, and slow cook us all the time, but only slightly... we move, and are rarely in one place long enough to suffer from exposure...

it is a long shot, but wouldn't you want to know if you just happened to be the lucky guy, in the middle of several microwave towers...



posted on Aug, 16 2005 @ 02:12 PM
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Compost piles get very hot - add some fertilizer and you have an exothermic reaction waiting to take place. Sound like the soil may have add some charcoal pieces in their to help ignite. Was a large planter and that would help insulate the reaction. Mailman may have tossed in a but on Saturday or some other visitor helping to ignite the reaction. Interesting and lucky you were around to catch it before it went up in flames and torched the house..!!

The microwave thingy is a nifty idea, was the air hot and dry as well that day..??



posted on Aug, 16 2005 @ 02:20 PM
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You might go back to the nursery where you bought the plant and the potting soil.....see if they have anyone there who might have some info.....or if they've had any similar occurances.

If you still have the fertilizer bag, you might find a toll free info number.....they would likely have a chemist in their employ that could tell you something.

....and if you planted anything else with the same materials, you might want to keep an eye on them!



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