Thursday, June 24, 2010

An RVer's worst nightmare!

If you're an RVer, you probably fear fire the most. The primary reason is because no matter how it starts, the end result is normally the same. . . total and complete destruction in a matter of minutes. . . usually under 15 minutes or so.

The other day I was out walking Neal when an Allegro Bus pulled in. I could tell by looking at the rear passenger side which was visible to me that they had had a fire. The damage started at the bottom and continued up almost to the roof in a line. The most damage was the entire back end of the diesel pusher and drew up to the corner above the washer/dryer vent.

I couldn't help myself. . . I walked over to where they were pulling in and started asking questions right away. I was overwhelmed by the fact that somehow these people not only pulled off surviving an RV fire, it was running fine, and it apparently had been contained rather rapidly.

The woman said they had been driving down a country road in rural Minnesota. When they stopped at a stop sign her husband noticed smoke in the rear camera. About that time a farmer pulled up to them to tell them they were on fire. They jumped out and called 911 first. The toad was on fire! They towed a VW beetle convertible. I don't know if it was vintage or new. She said they believe the fire started in the VW engine, so my guess it was a newer one with a front engine. They attempted to unhook the car, but they were on an incline and the tow bar was cocked a bit and they were unsuccessful. The fire department arrived quickly and the fire had just begun to spread to the motorhome. They said to forget the toad, save the motorhome, which they were able to do. I don't think they know the cause of the fire, but I did ask if they tow the VW with the engine running and she said no. She said watching the fiberglas and foam burn on the back of the motorhome was like watching marshmallows toasting over a fire. It just melted.

I asked if they had onboard extinquishers for the motorhome engine and she said yes, but it only sputtered. My guess is that because it wasn't an engine fire in the motorhome, it wasn't very effective. We have such an extinguisher and it shoots off when the engine compartment temperature raises. So it would have taken longer for that extinguisher to be activated properly.

When it was all said and done, the engine compartment of the motorhome was intact, the engine still good. There was some black plastic tubing covering wire (I don't know the name) that was melted, but wires were okay. Amazingly, the lady said the interior was undamaged, but she was having some trouble with the vent stack for her washer/dryer. Hmmm. I wonder why, since that was deformed by the fire.

They called Tiffin here in Red Bay and gave them the list of all that was damaged. She said they drove down from Minnesota to the Service Center here and all the parts were waiting on them.

I expressed to her my thanks that they were okay and that their coach had survived the fire. It was a scary thing to see.

We carry on board mounted extinguishers, one in the engine, one in the refrigerator compartment, and one in the generator compartment. In addition, we carry four portable units, one in the bedroom, one in the kitchen, one at the door, and one in the toad. Some people call that overkill, but we call it "insurance." Even at that, they are only to buy us enough time to get out alive. We wouldn't try to fight an RV fire on our own. So to all you RVers out there, if you haven't seen a live-fire demonstration by Mac the Fire Guy, you should. He is at all the major rallies. He will scare you yes, but the purpose is to make you understand how to get out alive. You will not be sorry.

Till next time. . . BE SAFE!


1 comment:

KarenInTheWoods and Steveio said...

Ahh yes, we have five extinguishers on board, one large one which is in an UNlockable compartment out in the front of our rig.

If you had to jump out fast, you probably won't have keys with you when you do it. And having that extra extinguisher available from the outside might be enough to save your loved ones trapped inside.

Also it is within easier reach to help someone else roadside or in an accident without having to run back into the rig to get keys to unlock that compartment.

Karen and Steve
(Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard