RV fire at a Loves RV

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Let me reiterate - "Or you can stay in the burning trailer."
I think I am perfectly capable of dropping to my feet from 5’ up, and I am a rather round 69 year old woman. The exit strategy is not just “jump head first or die!“ And if I did break something, I would much rather it be my leg or ankle than my head, thank you very much!
 
Mac the Fire Guy recommended going out feet first while holding onto the window sill. When you're at full extension release your grip and you'll only fall a foot or two. You might want to throw a blanket over the sill to cushion it.

Stand outside your fire escape window and reach up towards it to see how far you'll drop while hanging from the window sill. Definitely beats diving out the window and hoping for the best.
 
Definitely beats diving out the window and hoping for the best.

IN the immortal words of Richard Pryor - "What do you do when you are on fire? You RUUUUUNNNN!!!!"

I don't think anyone intends to "dive head first" out of a window. That's why you have to have a plan.

My earlier post about trial of the emergency window and it's height was to prompt a discussion about ladders and so on. I'm 62 and still 100% mobile. I have little concerns about finding a way out as long as I am conscious.

The older and less mobile one gets the more of a concern it is to get out "safely."
 
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I think I am perfectly capable of dropping to my feet from 5’ up, and I am a rather round 69 year old woman. The exit strategy is not just “jump head first or die!“ And if I did break something, I would much rather it be my leg or ankle than my head, thank you very much!
Who said anything about "jumping head first"? I simply said, "jump out the window". Head first, feet first, roll out sideways - the first body part to exit is not important. The rest of the body following in short order is.
 
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How many of you have actually taken a few minutes to test your smoke & CO detectors? I replace the batteries and test mine every New Year's Day and every late summer/early fall (around the beginning to middle of Sept) when I clean and test fire the heaters while I have time to make any repairs I may need BEFORE the heaters are needed. I have the expiration date written on the outside edge of each of the alarms where I can see it without removing the alarm.

How many have made sure you have safe egress from inside your camper? And I don't mean having to move a stack of boxes or containers of last season's clothing or similar. A camper, no matter how big and "well-built" goes up in just a few minutes.

I've been in two parks that had a camper catch fire. The first one was sitting in a site with no one in adjacent sites. But the fire burned so hot that a camper two sites away (one empty site between them) lost all the windows on the side facing the burning camper. The camper on the opposite side with three sites between them had exterior sidewall damage and their plastic chairs that were in front of the camper, melted. I don't know what kind it was. It came in late at night and it was a melted mess by lunchtime the following day. I never saw what it looked like and I couldn't tell what it was afterwards. We left the following day.

The second fire was bad. The fifth wheel was just gone and we all watched it happen. There were three little dogs inside. The owners were taking a shower in the bathhouse. At the time, we had more pet owners in our park than non-pet owners. About 6 of the guys tried to get the dogs out by putting a ladder against one of the bedroom windows and breaking the window out. The dogs were too frightened to leave the camper. We could hear them barking, until they stopped. The smoke was so thick and black inside that nothing could be seen. I dearly hope the dogs died from the smoke. We were all EXTREMEMLY lucky in that the fiver was at the east end of the row and the wind was blowing west to east. Otherwise the whole park would have gone up in minutes. All we would have had time to do was get the people and pets out of the rest of the campers. Some of us took the extra measure of putting our pets and important papers in our cars and moved them to the overflow parking area. This would allow us to help others. Luckily the rest of the park was safe. The owners had a parabolic radiant LP heater sitting on a 20LB LP cylinder INSIDE the fiver as their heat source. None of us knew it. The fire dept hauled it out the next day. Nothing was reported in the local news paper. If it's not in the newspaper, it didn't happen. So no links to the last fire.
 
27 Replies
577 views

How many of you have actually taken a few minutes to test your smoke & CO detectors? I replace the batteries and test mine every New Year's Day and every late summer/early fall (around the beginning to middle of Sept) when I clean and test fire the heaters while I have time to make any repairs I may need BEFORE the heaters are needed. I have the expiration date written on the outside edge of each of the alarms where I can see it without removing the alarm.

How many have made sure you have safe egress from inside your camper? And I don't mean having to move a stack of boxes or containers of last season's clothing or similar. A camper, no matter how big and "well-built" goes up in just a few minutes.

I've been in two parks that had a camper catch fire. The first one was sitting in a site with no one in adjacent sites. But the fire burned so hot that a camper two sites away (one empty site between them) lost all the windows on the side facing the burning camper. The camper on the opposite side with three sites between them had exterior sidewall damage and their plastic chairs that were in front of the camper, melted. I don't know what kind it was. It came in late at night and it was a melted mess by lunchtime the following day. I never saw what it looked like and I couldn't tell what it was afterwards. We left the following day.

The second fire was bad. The fifth wheel was just gone and we all watched it happen. There were three little dogs inside. The owners were taking a shower in the bathhouse. At the time, we had more pet owners in our park than non-pet owners. About 6 of the guys tried to get the dogs out by putting a ladder against one of the bedroom windows and breaking the window out. The dogs were too frightened to leave the camper. We could hear them barking, until they stopped. The smoke was so thick and black inside that nothing could be seen. I dearly hope the dogs died from the smoke. We were all EXTREMEMLY lucky in that the fiver was at the east end of the row and the wind was blowing west to east. Otherwise the whole park would have gone up in minutes. All we would have had time to do was get the people and pets out of the rest of the campers. Some of us took the extra measure of putting our pets and important papers in our cars and moved them to the overflow parking area. This would allow us to help others. Luckily the rest of the park was safe. The owners had a parabolic radiant LP heater sitting on a 20LB LP cylinder INSIDE the fiver as their heat source. None of us knew it. The fire dept hauled it out the next day. Nothing was reported in the local news paper. If it's not in the newspaper, it didn't happen. So no links to the last fire.
The only propane that belongs inside your RV is the flame burning on your stove, WH, or furnace.
 
The famous Refrigerator fire.
Ok so I am new to Rving, have not heard of this before? more info would be great.
My wife and Both scared of the propane, as we had a leak in a Winnebago we had about 10 years ago.
never found the leak, but we let it air out at a gas station we pulled into after i shut it all off at the tank. we were in s.c. at the time. when we returned to n.c. the first thing I did was removed the big tank underneith the rig.
 
This was a problem back in the early 2000s (like 200x Both Dometic and Norcold did recalls to address the issue.... The problem is mostly maintance.. the owner's manuals are not well written so figuring out what they mean by cleaning is.. not easy (I now know but without incident)
There were a few fires..... As for you and your wife's concern about propane.. Been used for both heating and refrigeration for along LONG L*O*N*G*! Time and fires are rare provided you keep your stuff in good condition..... I grew up with Propane for cooking and water heating and even room heating 70 years ago... We hadn 100 pound bottles that were swapped out from time to time.. Cooked with natural gas for 35 years (And heated with it in the house) Same dangers as propane.
When I went full time in the RV the only time I shut the fridge off was if Refilling the propane tank.
 
Anyone who has lived rural has probably used propane. My husband used it growing up on his farm as did all their neighbors. It is not dangerous if the system is properly maintained. Note electrical systems can be dangerous if not maintained too! If you ever do smell gas outside, it is a regulator. Turn off the tank and replace the regulator, pretty simple. We had it happen with a travel trailer in 35+ years of travel, but the system on our motorhome is more enclosed and more robust.
 
How many of you have actually taken a few minutes to test your smoke & CO detectors?

TBH my smoke detectors go off almost every time I cook. They seem to be way too sensitive.

It's crazy that you were witness to not one but two major fires. When I think about all the RVs out there at any one time it's crazy to witness one fire much less two.

When I was young, maybe 8, we lived really remote for a while. Heating was portable kerosene floor heaters. My brother and I had one between out twin beds. In the middle of the night a bedsheet draped over and caught fire. I woke up, thankfully, screaming and my brother and I got out. Older brother's extinguished the fire and drug the mattress outside.

Could have been a real tragedy - Mom and 7 kids in the house...
 
One NEVER knows if they are parked next to a "problem" camper. Many don't realize that they ARE the "problem" camper.

Electricity is not "safe" either.

We used to remodel/flip older houses for a living. These houses tended to be from early 1900's thru 1960's. We upgraded electrical systems (or just plain added them) and added modern conveniences (which required upgraded electric). Because of this business, I researched old residential building practices. I like history and old houses, just don't want to live in a house.

We have worked on houses that had remnants of gas lighting and piping in the house as well early wiring. I wonder how many of you know that electricity was considered very dangerous when it was first being installed in houses. The electric companies engaged in a very big and very successful marketing campaign pushing the "safety" of electricity compared to "dangerous" gas and candles. The "electricity is safer than gas" mindset still exists today. The early wiring consisted of two BARE wires that were about 6 to 12 inches apart. The wire was wrapped around ceramic insulators that looked like thread spools. The wiring side of light switches and many light fixtures looked like nightmares. I stripped and rewired several vintage light fixtures in order to keep some houses "age appropriate". Most of the wiring showed signs of overheating damage at some point in time. It was not "safe" and still isn't "safe". Houses burn down all the time due to electrical fires.

Keep in mind that your campers are built by people, some of whom are only interested in getting to the bar on Friday night and/or are recovering from a hangover on Monday morning. Or smoking their government approved marijuana. Why would you think campers are exempt for electrical fires?

It's all dangerous. Life is dangerous. A lot of danger can be mitigated with a little not so common sense and the knowledge that maintenance is required for pretty much everything.
 
TBH my smoke detectors go off almost every time I cook. They seem to be way too sensitive.

It's crazy that you were witness to not one but two major fires. When I think about all the RVs out there at any one time it's crazy to witness one fire much less two.
Your smoke alarms may not be mounted in the correct place and/or your exhaust vent may not actually be exhausting like it should (recirculating vents tend to set off smoke alarms - recirculating vents are junk and greasy fire hazards in my opinion). In any case, you need to replace your detectors and check to see if they are mounted in the correct place.

I've been in construction long enough to know that "quality" is more often a marketing term than not.
 
The early wiring consisted of two BARE wires that were about 6 to 12 inches apart. The wire was wrapped around ceramic insulators that looked like thread spools. The wiring side of light switches and many light fixtures looked like nightmares. I stripped and rewired several vintage light fixtures in order to keep some houses "age appropriate". Most of the wiring showed signs of overheating damage at some point in time. It was not "safe" and still isn't "safe". Houses burn down all the time due to electrical fires.

Keep in mind that your campers are built by people, some of whom are only interested in getting to the bar on Friday night and/or are recovering from a hangover on Monday morning. Or smoking their government approved marijuana. Why would you think campers are exempt for electrical fires?

It's all dangerous. Life is dangerous. A lot of danger can be mitigated with a little not so common sense and the knowledge that maintenance is required for pretty much everything.
I lived in a house at the HQ of the wildlife area when I worked for F&W. F&W had purchased an old dairy farm, including the house, barn and shop, specifically to be used as such. The original part of the house had been built in 1906, with everything else having been added throughout the decades. The original wiring was just that - what they called "knob and tube" - except these wires weren't bare, they were/had been wrapped in an insulator similar to waxed paper. Before I moved in the wiring for the house had been updated, but the old wiring was still there. The shop and barns were of newer vintage, and were "OK", but not really "OK" enough. So, I rewired all of it myself. I had a little advice occasionally from the local PG&E guy, and it took me over a year working maybe a couple days a month because I had other duties, but when I was done I had the PG&E guy come and check my work and he said as far as he could see it was all to code.

Yeah, I'm pretty good with home wiring now. :cool:
 
We used to remodel/flip older houses for a living. These houses tended to be from early 1900's thru 1960's. We upgraded electrical systems (or just plain added them) and added modern conveniences (which required upgraded electric).

My first home selling event was a pain in the butt disaster. It was my first home built in the 70's. I had a whole house inspection done prior to purchase and did not raise any real red flags.

Upon selling it was discovered the house had a mix of copper and aluminum wiring which in itself is not bad and can be mitigated. What was wrong was the interface from aluminum to copper was not done per code.

In addition a small basement crack was noted which I am sure must have pre-existed. The buyers were a young couple that were first time buyers. Her dad was a contractor and made a big deal of these two faults. We ended up dropping price by $10k. I think we ended up breaking even on the house after 5 years and after realtor costs.

Your smoke alarms may not be mounted in the correct place and/or your exhaust vent may not actually be exhausting like it should (recirculating vents tend to set off smoke alarms - recirculating vents are junk and greasy fire hazards in my opinion)

The alarms are all new and factory installed but I get your point. The stove fan is a recirculator which I know is not ideal but as an old chef I am very disciplined about stove cleanliness and well aware of grease fire risk. I clean the screen and trap monthly. Unfortunately the stove backs an interior wall and no practical way to vent outside.
 
Anyone who has lived rural has probably used propane. My husband used it growing up on his farm as did all their neighbors. It is not dangerous if the system is properly maintained. Note electrical systems can be dangerous if not maintained too! If you ever do smell gas outside, it is a regulator. Turn off the tank and replace the regulator, pretty simple. We had it happen with a travel trailer in 35+ years of travel, but the system on our motorhome is more enclosed and more robust.
It could also be the hose between the tank and the regulator. I've had a couple that will leak on the high pressure side if they're flexed a certain way. The newer plastic QCC connectors using the external threads on the tank valve seem more prone to this than the older all metal POL connectors that use the internal threads on the valve.
 
We had a former fire fighter give a presentation at a Diesel RV Club rally not too long ago. He said you can’t really fight an RV fire with a small extinguisher, but you can use it to clear a path for escape. RVs are so full of flammable items that will generate toxic smoke that you should just leave. Sweep the extinguisher in front of you to clear a path and get out! Maybe I am slow, but I had never thought of it that way, but that is the way I would do it now. We keep a good sized extinguisher in the bedroom, another in the kitchen, and a third in the front.
Sorry, but that firefighter gave horrible advice! Or you misunderstood what he said. Either way, an extinguisher is never intended to be used to clear a path to get out. They are for very small fires that you catch as they start. You are always supposed to have an escape path away from the fire (never through) before using one. By the time you would need one to clear a path, it is so big the smoke will kill you before you take a couple steps. Not to mention that if you are having to extinguish flames to proceed forward, you will be moving through weakened/possibly burned through floor and have melting plastics dripping down on you. I have fought camper fires and they are horrible even with full firefighter gear. The floors are burned through very quickly and the toxic smoke they generate is quick and deadly. Extinguishers do absolutely nothing against the smoke (again, the thing that will actually kill you).
I seriously would love the contact info for that firefighter to discuss the issue.
 

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