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Phyllis Meyer
12-08-2008, 4:19 PM
Hi Everyone,

Thankfully no-one hurt, the building is still standing, and besides a lot of smoke and water damage...all will be fine!

Just a reminder to everyone...the newbies more...NEVER LEAVE WHATEVER YOU ARE LASERING AND WALK AWAY! That wasn't what I did, but you know how you are running a long job and you are tempted...don't!

I was lasering ornaments and I was in my office (which is where the laser is also), and I had the door shut because it's much warmer in here with my little electric heater. I could smell more smoke than normal and opened the door and could see our building full of smoke, I glanced in the other room where I saw flames shooting out of the sawdust collector. I closed that door, grabbed the phone, left the building and dialed 911. They were here in no time and contained the fire immediately but 4 BIG RED TRUCKS still came and did their thing. I couldn't believe how fast this all happened. New venting will be installed, somehow vectoring those wood ornaments must have sent a spark...I'm not sure how all this works, but all the correct vents were opened, and we have an excellent venting system thanks to my husband.

Please everyone, be careful! This was an extremely rough one because my husband's Mom died in a house fire on this property and the panic sets in so quickly! All will be fine, but just wanted to alert everyone that stuff like this happens so fast. We can replace the wood, thankfully the office didn't get sprayed so the laser is fine. We should be up and running in a few days.

Sincerely,
Phyllis

Rob Bosworth
12-08-2008, 4:34 PM
Phyllis, we are glad to hear that no one was hurt. These kinds of fires happen quickly.

Were you exhausting your laser through your regular dust collection system? IF so, you are really lucky you did not have an explosion rather than a fire. A spark in that fine dust could have been like a spark in a grain elevator. Those super fine particles of dust stay suspended for a long time. When they ignite, Kaboom!

Remember, never use your wood dust collection system or a paint booth exhaust system to also exhaust your laser. Use a separate exhaust duct system for the laser. It does not look like a spark could make it past the laser exhaust plenum, but a spark can travel a long way before the ember dies.

Margaret Turco
12-08-2008, 4:38 PM
Wow! Thank goodness you're ok, and thanks for the reminder to us all! I don't actually use the bag on my exhaust, but if I did I would think about maybe putting it in a steel barrel or something after hearing this. I'm glad you did the right thing and got out of there right away. I always have my phone handy, too.

Take care,
Margaret

Scott Challoner
12-08-2008, 4:51 PM
Glad everyone is safe Phyllis. If you have to get anything done while you're down, just PM me.

Barb Macdonald
12-08-2008, 8:37 PM
Wow, glad everyone is Ok, Phyllis.
Whew!

Keith Outten
12-08-2008, 9:36 PM
Phyllis, have you been overclockin your laser tube? That's a no no :)

Glad everything is Ok and the damage was contained.
.

David Fairfield
12-08-2008, 9:59 PM
Dang that's scary. Glad you're OK!

I'm just wondering why my laser exhaust port doesn't have a little mesh screen over it? I occasionally hear a chad fly off into the exhaust tube (its metal) I think there's probably a little pile of kindling material in there by now! I guess I'll make a little screen for the port.

Dave

Leigh Costello
12-08-2008, 11:27 PM
Wow, Phyllis! Glad everything is okay. Hope you are up and running real soon!

Dee Gallo
12-08-2008, 11:37 PM
Thanks for the reality check, we all need to pay attention and remember what we're dealing with. I'm so glad nobody got hurt and you can be up and running in short order.

cheers, dee

Phyllis Meyer
12-09-2008, 9:31 AM
Hey Everyone,

It really stinks in here this morning, and what a mess. No sleep last night thinking of all the "what ifs", and so thankful once again for the knowledge that "life" is more important than "things"!

My husband got me a new venting system going, and I will be lasering here in a few minutes.

I thought it might be a good idea for whoever was interested in snapping a picture or two of their venting systems (if anything for the newbies, or a friendly reminder to all of us) to be set up safely.

Thanks to all of you for your thoughts and concerns.
Sincerely,
Phyllis

Joe Pelonio
12-09-2008, 10:27 AM
Phyllis,

I'm glad the damage was not worse and that you were all safe. I think for the benefit of many others it would be good to give more details about your setup that failed, such as Rob's question about whether you were
exhausting your laser through your regular dust collection system.

I have seen sparks fly a bit when vectoring wood, and do stay close by but it seems that they should would extinguished when being shot through a squirrel cage fan before hitting the air outside the shop. In my case any debris would exit about 15' up but over an area with dry fir needles under a 80' tree, and decorative bark on the ground so there is definitely reason to be concerned, though much more so in summer since all that fuel is wet this time of year here.

Dave Johnson29
12-09-2008, 10:53 AM
somehow vectoring those wood ornaments must have sent a spark


Hi Phyllis,

I am glad it all worked out OK, but I am stunned that you would combine a wood dust extraction system and a laser exhaust system.

Whilst not a perfect system, here are some shots of mine that I posted a few weeks back.

http://www.lasercottage.com/links/admin_extractor.htm

Phyllis Meyer
12-09-2008, 11:18 AM
Hi Everyone,

I'm not the venting expert, but...my husband has a separate exhaust system for the sawdust collector. The laser exhaust gets vented outside. He has all the tubing run throughout the entire shop with gates that get shut/open when he uses his saws...He was not here, but worked in the shop on Sunday. I went to work in the shop (lasering) on Monday and I was vectoring ornaments and I do have a pretty charred one...was this the point where something went wrong? But still not sure why this would affect the dust collector. It is very dry in here also. Both venting systems are very close, close enough to cause a spark?

Our camera is broke, new one coming from Santa. I will take some pictures of this setup.

Sincerely,
Phyllis

Dan Hintz
12-09-2008, 12:11 PM
You said it was very dry in the shop and you were vectoring wood (probably using shop air on the air assist, right?)... sounds like you were under the best possible conditions for a fire. Dry wood, an ignition source, and air forced at the hot spot... an unlucky day, indeed. Sorry to hear about your misfortune, but at least you were back up and running in short order and damage was minimal.

Belinda Williamson
12-09-2008, 4:49 PM
Phyllis,

As the others have said, I'm glad you are safe and no greater damage was done. Thanks for the reminder to both the oldie goldies, and the newbies.

Michael Kowalczyk
12-09-2008, 7:37 PM
Yes Phyllis, Ditto on what the others have posted and may you be Blessed with extra business to make up for what you may have lost. Most of all we are thankful you are safe because each of us are unique and irreplaceable.
Be safe and ...

Debbie Gillett
12-10-2008, 5:07 PM
Phyllis,
So glad you are fine and I know the exact feelings. It is is good to mention to all newbies and old comers alike that a fire can happen when you even think all is done. I am not sure of my reason for my fire, could have been a faulty laser / tube or something else we never really did find out.
My story is this. I was engraving and vector cutting plastic. The job had completed. I even was still in the house 10 minutes after the job had completed and all the machinery was shut down. I did leave the plastic in the machine and I did leave the lid down. Long story short my dh and sons and myself left to go to dh's parents house less than 5 minutes away while leaving my dd here to study for a nursing exam. She called us 10 minutes later to say the smoke alarms were all going off and the house was full of smoke. She had called the fire dept as well. Needless to say we got here before the fire dept and used fire extinishers on it. The fire dept did show up after we had put out the fire but the smoke damage was done. Luckily the only damage to the house was the laser was trashed and the vertical blinds at the window behind the laser was melted and the light cover above the laser on the ceiling was melted (light still works though). We were very lucky and thank god every day that everyone was safe and the house still standing. But I now make sure after I am done with the laser for the day that I lift the lid, remove the items I have worked on and make sure there is nothing smoldering in my laser.

Dave Coble
12-11-2008, 11:17 AM
Phyllis,


I'm glad to hear that the damage was limited and most importantly the things that matter the most were not harmed. Wow, a real eye-opener. I've heard of fires but didn't realize that one could be started that way. I think I'm relocating my blower outside now - just in case.

Richard McMahon
12-11-2008, 6:33 PM
Very lucky indeed and so glad you're all well,
Incidentally, I did a bit of research on dust extractors when I got my wood working shop set up because I was getting a tremendous static shock from the dust extractor and thought about all the grain silo explosions that happened so long ago and whether it may cause a spontaneous fire/explosion of some sorts. Sometimes nearly 1/2" of spark would jump at me and cause me to flinch.
I searched the net for cases of static caused fires in wood or dust collectors and apart from the very dangerous wheat silo explosions there have been no recorded static caused fires from exhaust/dust extractors with records dating back 80 years. Most notably from the New York Fire department.
I felt a bit safer then.
Some people still put an earth wire down the length of the extractor pipe just to make sure and also to circumvent the nasty electric shock.
I think the mesh gauze would be a welcome addition to the extractor as well to stop the little sparks from entering where the dust will build up.
Best of luck for the future.
Rich.

Tom Delaney
12-11-2008, 7:04 PM
I too am very glad you came out OK as well as your machine BUT it does raise a really valid point about smoke / heat detection equipment. I just reads in another thread where someone vents their system thru a vacuum system in their garage attic. IF any equipment like that which we use is left anywhere unattended (and I define that as NOT IN YOUR IMMEDIATE VISIBLE AREA) you are doing yourself, your family and the local fire departments a disservice by not considering the installation of either a smoke detecting system OR a 'heat rise' detector.

In our case, with the smoke sometimes generated, a smoke detector might frequently 'false' so don't hook it to an outside alarm system without getting some real expert advise. A heat rise works on the premis of a cell that measures heat increase within a given timeframe and could be a lifesaver. Especially if you are working in a basement or office without secondary egress (fire talk for another way out). As a past fire chief and one with 35+ years in the service - I thank each and every one of you who take this to heart! As they say in the emergency services 'be safe out there'!

Larry Bratton
12-11-2008, 8:08 PM
Hi Everyone,

I'm not the venting expert, but...my husband has a separate exhaust system for the sawdust collector. The laser exhaust gets vented outside. He has all the tubing run throughout the entire shop with gates that get shut/open when he uses his saws...He was not here, but worked in the shop on Sunday. I went to work in the shop (lasering) on Monday and I was vectoring ornaments and I do have a pretty charred one...was this the point where something went wrong? But still not sure why this would affect the dust collector. It is very dry in here also. Both venting systems are very close, close enough to cause a spark?

Our camera is broke, new one coming from Santa. I will take some pictures of this setup.

Sincerely,
Phyllis
Phillis:
Your conditions were very condusive to create static electricity.Dry and cool. Static electricity generation is a huge problem that has to be dealt with in industrial settings. My CNC machine has a dust collection system that is outside and we ground everything. PVC piping is quite dangerous and believe it or not can produce dangerous static electricity. We use flex pipe made with copper wire inside, we ground that off also. It's like Rob said...BOOM! not fire first, but an explosion can occur, especially where fine dust is generated.
Glad you and your equipment are OK though. Be careful.