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Nov 10, 2002, 01:09 AM
Registered User
Thread OP

Li-Poly, catch fire, fire guts garage!!!!

Early Friday morning, fire gutted the contents of my garage.
Luckily, we heard it (something fell in the garage and woke us up at 2 am). Here is a short version of what happened...

Sorry, Details removed....
Last edited by CWallace; Nov 10, 2002 at 09:29 PM.
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Nov 10, 2002, 01:19 AM
Aerial Shutterbug
RMihara's Avatar

I'm very sorry to hear of your loss there, but am relieved to hear you and your family are safe and still have a home!

In switching over to Li-Ion cells and now experimenting with Li-Polys myself I have a special 'containment' box I place the cells into when I'm not watching them 100% of the time.

When I'm at the field, my metal charging case doubles as fire protection/containment so I don't toast my truck.

Even though you have lost some memorable toys, hopefully you will be able to replace them. Hey look at it this way, you get to build some more planes!

Get airborne again soon and good job keeping a cool head under the circumstances!

Nov 10, 2002, 02:03 AM
Hoosier Hobby Hangar
Kevin P's Avatar


I echo Roger in saying that I am glad that you and your family are alive and well. It seems that you have taken your loss well. As far as the insurance goes, I had a very good experience with our insurance company (American Family). I had a lot (over 6,000) worth of "toys" stolen from my garage. I also had full replacement coverage. I had to do a little research to get replacement cost, a big thanks to my LHS, but once that I did they paid for it all (minus On the upside I had a lot of old chargers, batts and other items that were no longer available so I got some nice new stuff. But nothing can ever replace some of the models, planes, cars and other things that I put a lot of time and effort into I wish you and your family the best and will keep you in our prayers.
Nov 10, 2002, 10:55 AM
Registered User
E-Challenged's Avatar

Unattended Charging

Many years ago had a typical wall wart nicad charger start fire while I was in the room. Somehow the output wire overheated, insulation melted and burst into flame. My family and I were very lucky and so were you. I have since become complacent and trusting of my "state of the art" chargers, etc. After reading your story, I'll not put a pack on charge and go to bed anymore.

Thanks for sharing, it may save many lives!!
Nov 10, 2002, 11:02 AM
Registered User
Nowell's Avatar
Sounds like a freak accident. I'm happy you and your family are safe.

Fire boxes are a great idea.

This could have happened with other battery chemistries as well--who knows what setting your Orbit could have been on when it restarted. (This is to all you people who are considering boo hooing Li batts).
Nov 10, 2002, 11:08 AM
Registered User
CW, thank you for taking the time to describe your experience in detail. Thank goodness no one was hurt and damage was confined to the garage. The kind of accident that you describe is certainly an unusual circumstance that I could imagine happening with other things besides a battery charger charging Li-poly cells.

When I was a kid, I used to experiment with lots of different chemicals in the basement workshop right under my parents' bedroom. My bedroom was in the basement near the workshop. I was an especially sound sleeper, but one night I just sat bolt upright in bed wondering what was going on. I heard a crackling sound, and ran to the workshop. A small fire was just starting in a trash box where I had dumped some chemicals. In a panic, I threw a heavy cloth over the box and managed to smother the fire. Once out, I opened the window and aired out the smoke. My parents were both light sleepers with keen sense of smell, and I just stood in the workshop trembling and waiting for them to come downstairs and deliver a major punishment. After about half an hour, the smoke was cleared and the parents were still asleep. I quietly cleaned up evidence of the fire and went back to bed. They never knew what happened, but it made an enormous impression on me that was much greater than any punishment they might have delivered.

That experience left me totally paranoid about anything that might start a fire. So when I'm charging any type of cells unattended, I always do so with packs removed from the aircraft and sitting in the middle of the concrete basement floor with no combustible materials within 10 feet. Anytime I read about an experience like this, it reinforces my belief that it is good to be paranoid about anything that might start a fire.
Nov 10, 2002, 11:10 AM
Registered User
Any constructive feedback is appreciated (Nobody can be harder on me than myself, so don't even try....thanks)

OK, But I can understand now, why insurance rates are almost unaffordable to the non-affluant.
Nov 10, 2002, 11:12 AM
Registered User
E-Challenged's Avatar

Forget to Unplug?

I have forgotten to unplug my soldering iron, covering iron, Dremel tool( speed control stays warm when plugged in) , power supply, etc. I have left the movie theatre to come home and check whether I unpluggged the things or not. It would help if all such electrical tools had a flashing LED when plugged in although nothing is fool or forgetfullness-proof. I try to make sure everything is unplugged when I leave the room now and hope everybody else does too. It's too easy to leave the room for a minute, have your train of thought derailed and leave these tools plugged in and unattended for hours or maybe even days (as in leaving home for a few days).
Nov 10, 2002, 11:14 AM
Giddy up!
Sal C's Avatar
OMG is right! Wow! Thank god you and your family are safe, I can't imagine what I would do. I don't even want to think about if something like that happened to my house and god for bid we were sleeping.

I too have dove into the Li-poly's. Thank you for opening my eyes to the pre-cautions we must take. I have a question, do you believe the same thing could have happened with a typical nicad or nimh pack or are the Li-poly's more susceptible to starting fires? I don't think we want to deem Li-poly's taboo if something simliar could have happened with typical packs. Let's face it this is a dangerous hobby. Not only electric because gas planes can catch fire or the fuel stored somewhere. We also have to deal with spinning "knives" (props) and every other aspect too.

Thank you for being so calm (at least it appears that way - I'd be a basket case) and for sharing your experience with us. You have probably saved others from the same kind of experience by posting this. Thank you. I pray everything works out for you and your family.

BTW, was that a Hummer as in the vehicle Hummer? If so, WOW!
Nov 10, 2002, 11:15 AM
Registered User
Don Sims's Avatar
Thank God you and the family are alright! Makes me want to consider experimenting with Lipolys very closely!
Nov 10, 2002, 11:21 AM
Hoosier Hobby Hangar
Kevin P's Avatar
Originally posted by uncled
Any constructive feedback is appreciated (Nobody can be harder on me than myself, so don't even try....thanks)

OK, But I can understand now, why insurance rates are almost unaffordable to the non-affluant.

Why make a comment like this? He posted a very informative thread, and has been thru a lot. I don't think he needs ridiculed by you just because he has (had) a lot of toys. I hope I took that wrong and you meant no offense. But either way IMHO I think it was in bad taste
Nov 10, 2002, 11:31 AM
Registered User

Re: Li-Poly, catch fire, fire guts garage!!!!

Originally posted by CWallace

Orbit Charger with Novak 10 amp power supply.

When Orbit normally looses power, it must be turned back on to charge again. I've noticed that it doesn't always return to the same charge setting that it was last on. We had stormy weather that night, and I remember the lights flickering throughout the evening. I think the orbit /power supply had some short power loss/surge that caused the charger to reset it's menu selection to either the fast charge or normal charge setting, without depowering completely. It then started to charge at a destructive rate for the Li-Poly's.
I have also observed that my Orbit charger does not always return to the previous setting when powered down. However, I don't think the scenario you described could not have happened, assuming your charger operates the same way my does. When the charger loses power, you have to manually turn it on again, it does not power on with just the application of power. Also, if there is a battery connect while powering on, it will not begin a charge sequence. It sounds an error and requires the battery to be disconnected and reconnected.

You story is indeed scary. I am glad no one got hurt. Best of luck with the insurance company.
Nov 10, 2002, 12:14 PM
Registered User
Thread OP

Thank you

Thanks for the support everyone. It's part of why I enjoy this hobby so much (Also the fact that my son (14) is as involved as I am).
Last edited by CWallace; Nov 10, 2002 at 09:30 PM.
Nov 10, 2002, 12:28 PM
Hoosier Hobby Hangar
Kevin P's Avatar
I was not treating this equipment the same way I would treat the business end of a high power electric plane (ie. prop!!!!)

At the ripe old age 16 I got bit good by a slimer prop and learned a valuable lesson. Sixteen years later and I still have the scar and have never been bit again. Thanks, CW for your story this will be one lesson I will be able to avoid learning the hard way. My Li-polys will be charged on the concrete floor way from all flammable items from now on also. I am sitting here thinking about how many times I have used the "set it and forget it" approach to charging cells.
Nov 10, 2002, 01:21 PM
Registered User
What do you think about placing the charging batteries inside one of those small Sentry Fire-Safes? They are only $20-30 and while they are made to keep fire out I would thing they should keep it in as well.

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