MrV
MrV
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November 13th, 2018 at 4:24:31 PM permalink
The death toll from the recent California wildfires led me to wonder whether there might be a fairly easy way to avoid being burned to death if you are in your dwelling when a wildfire hits.

It occurred to me that a small, pre-built structure, perhaps analogous to a tornado shelter, could be constructed (if deemed effective) and used by those in wildfire country.

Are there fire shelters / fire cellars now in common use, similar to tornado shelters?

If not, why not?
"What, me worry?"
Face
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November 13th, 2018 at 4:37:18 PM permalink
A hobbit hole would keep you physically safe, but how to breathe? I imagine such a filtration system to turn fire into fresh air is probably cost prohibitive.
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gordonm888
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November 13th, 2018 at 4:51:48 PM permalink
Quote: Face

A hobbit hole would keep you physically safe, but how to breathe? I imagine such a filtration system to turn fire into fresh air is probably cost prohibitive.



I agree. Actually, you would need a cooling system to cool the air and you would want to filter out the combustion products.
That would take electric power, so you would need a generator located in a place that wouldn't burn or be overheated by the fire -maybe down in the ground with you. But generators turn out waste heat! I think there are a lot of practical problems.
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beachbumbabs
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November 13th, 2018 at 4:59:08 PM permalink
The smoke jumpers carry special reflective small tents/large sleeping bags with them. I know there are some who have used them and survived. But there was also that group who got trapped in Oregon, a unit from Arizona I think, and all 22 burned alive despite using their bags. So maybe the bags are not a great solution.

It does seem like there should be a way. I guess the biggest thing is oxygen is flammable/explosive, so how do you protect your supply with the extreme heat? How do you vent or scrub your CO2? it would have to resemble a space capsule, but buried well underground.

Edit: I remembered the facts wrong, or I think I confused it with another large firefighter loss about 20 years ago.

Yarnell Hill fire 2013, in Arizona, 19 Prescott City firefighters killed. RIP and sorry.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yarnell_Hill_Fire

And this is the Oregon tragedy from 1994:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/articles.oregonlive.com/wildfires/index.ssf/2014/07/prineville_hotshots_revisiting.amp
Last edited by: beachbumbabs on Nov 13, 2018
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gamerfreak
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November 13th, 2018 at 5:47:00 PM permalink
Quote: beachbumbabs

The smoke jumpers carry special reflective small tents/large sleeping bags with them. I know there are some who have used them and survived. But there was also that group who got trapped in Oregon, a unit from Arizona I think, and all 22 burned alive despite using their bags. So maybe the bags are not a great solution.

It does seem like there should be a way. I guess the biggest thing is oxygen is flammable/explosive, so how do you protect your supply with the extreme heat? How do you vent or scrub your CO2? it would have to resemble a space capsule, but buried well underground.


They are a complete last ditch effort to survive.



What a terrible way to die.

There’s a reason Wildland firefighters make well into the 6-figures for a few months work.
RogerKint
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November 13th, 2018 at 6:08:34 PM permalink
Having had to evacuate due to a wildfire I can say it's a feeling of anger and frustration along with the fear. You have all this money taken from you and told that you'll be protected except you're not and you won't be. We can ride dune buggies on the moon (LOL) but can't put out a damn fire.

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MrV
MrV
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November 13th, 2018 at 6:42:09 PM permalink
I hadn't considered the oxygen issue; I wonder how long an area stays "really hot" when hit by a wildfire?

Obviously the amount of time will vary, but it seems to me that fire hits, burns and moves on, and when it's moved on the temp should go way down.

So if there is usually a five to ten minute period of dangerous oxygen that's one thing, but a half hour to a couple hours would be another thing entirely.

I contemplated a hole in the ground, a fireproof cover / door, and a decent respirator.
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Wizard
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November 13th, 2018 at 7:23:30 PM permalink
I've wondered about this too. What about jumping into a swimming pool with a good quality dust mask?

However, what if you're in a car and there is no swimming pool around and the road is blocked? That, I just don't know. Sometimes when I'm surfing around I catch a show about what to do in certain emergencies and natural disasters, but I haven't seen one addressed about fire yet.
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billryan
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November 13th, 2018 at 10:33:56 PM permalink
You can buy a safe that will withstand hours in a fire. I don't see why a fireproof vault isn't possible.
I believe a scuba equipped person in a cement pool would survive, although I have no idea how hot the water might get.
MrV
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November 13th, 2018 at 11:33:10 PM permalink
My thought was to have the earth itself serve to insulate and to protect the home owner: make it a hole in the ground, sort of like a small tornado storm cellar.

Fire won't burn the ground, and a proper, reflective fireproof entry door probably could be developed such that most heat is kept out.

It could be a great way for an inventive fellow to get rich, designing, patenting, manufacturing and selling these to Californians and others out west who live in areas prone to wildfire.

Probably a scuba-type breathing arrangement could be implemented, if shown to be necessary.
"What, me worry?"

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