/ Warning about using stoves inside tents...

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LastBoyScout 30 Jul 2018

On a campsite at the weekend and it seems 1 family were feeling a little chilly inside their tent and decided to take a petrol stove inside it.

It seems that they then had some sort of a leak and the daughter ended up with lit petrol up her arms, resulting in an abulance being called - the last I heard was that she requires specialist treatment in a burns unit for her hands and forearms.

I don't know any more, as I wasn't actually on site at the time - was told the story by 2 members of staff at the site.

Just thought I'd post a warning about the dangers of stoves inside tents.

2
Neil Williams 30 Jul 2018
In reply to LastBoyScout:

I really dislike petrol stoves, the potential for things to go wrong is huge.  Mind you meths would be as bad.

Hope she recovers soon.

Post edited at 10:41
1
pasbury 30 Jul 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

Agreed - I had a series of Coleman Peak 1 stoves and it's an absolute miracle that I never blew myself up.

Pursued by a bear 30 Jul 2018
In reply to LastBoyScout:

Given the potential for a tent-melting flare, I'd never use a petrol stove anywhere other than outside. I'm equally wary of changing gas cylinders anywhere close to a naked flame.

A trangia in a tent is ok, though.

T.

4
Neil Williams 30 Jul 2018
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

Gas, ideally.  I once spilt meths in the porch of my tent and ended up with a small fire, fortunately small enough to be put out with a damp towel but it was scary with a fire developing between me and the way out of the tent.

If you *must* use a stove in a tent, only a hanging or separate-canister gas stove (or gas Trangia) is even vaguely sensible.  (Canister top gas stoves are also dangerous in a tent as if you knock it over you've got nowhere to go to avoid the potential fire and boiling water going everywhere).

But petrol is *really* dangerous...imagine the vapour amassing in the tent and then.....

Post edited at 11:37
1
Eric9Points 30 Jul 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

> But petrol is *really* dangerous...imagine the vapour amassing in the tent and then.....

 

The only time I ever heard of that happening, it happened with gas stove. The owner, who was drunk at the time, started the stove but couldn't get the matches to light. Leaving the stove valve open he went out to borrow some dry matches. He returned successful in his quest, got back into the tent, struck a match......

Speaking from personal experience I would definitely not recommend trying to refill a petrol stove while it is still going. It hadn't been a good day anyway but it got worse after that.

Post edited at 12:34
elsewhere 30 Jul 2018
In reply to LastBoyScout:

It's what they taught us so as any scout should know ;-) ...

... if cooking in a tent to have a sharp knife ready to cut your way out if trapped.

 

 

 

Post edited at 12:51
gethin_allen 30 Jul 2018
In reply to elsewhere:

> It's what they taught us so as any scout should know ;-) ...

> ... if cooking in a tent to have a sharp knife ready to cut your way out if trapped.


This would probably only help you in an old scout patrol tent as a modern nylon thing would burn through faster than you could find the knife.

Initially I thought the original post was going to be a much worse tale of people being poisoned with CO.

1
Timmd 30 Jul 2018
In reply to gethin_allen:

> This would probably only help you in an old scout patrol tent as a modern nylon thing would burn through faster than you could find the knife.

I guess that could depend on the size of the tent, the porch, the distance of the stove from the sleeping compartment, where the person cooking was at the time of the fire starting, and if they had the knife ready to hand?

> Initially I thought the original post was going to be a much worse tale of people being poisoned with CO.

Me too, that can happen if BBQ's are put inside a large tent after being used and things are zipped up before going to bed, too. I read about that happening to a couple and one of them dying as a result, the other one had a cracking head ache upon waking up.

Post edited at 13:55
3
Rob Parsons 30 Jul 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

> But petrol is *really* dangerous...imagine the vapour amassing in the tent and then.....

 

What 'vapour'? If the stove's alight, the petrol vapour's been burnt. There's a risk of CO poisoning as result of the byproducts, but that's a separate question.

I have routinely used both petrol and gas stoves in small tents (e.g. Quasars) on many trips over many years: if the weather is raging outside, there is no alternative. You just need to be very careful, and very vigilant.

 

1
Neil Williams 30 Jul 2018
In reply to Rob Parsons:

I was thinking more of at the point of lighting.

LastBoyScout 30 Jul 2018
In reply to Rob Parsons:

That's why I posted it as a "warning" and not as a "don't do this in any circumstances".

I've also done likewise in the porch of my tent in foul weather, but only in small hike tents with adults in them and where the stove can be placed directly on the ground - i.e. not a completely sewn in groundsheet, so no restriction on air flow.

With 2 small children in our tent and a completely sewn in groundsheet, I took my stove over to a "sheltered" corner of the site buildings to get the kettle on.

I've had a headache from CO from a small fire in a building with what turned out to be inadequate ventilation - and that had a HUGE airspace (big hall) and a certain amount of draft from all the wind outside that weekend. You might consider we were all lucky that's the worst that happened.

captain paranoia 30 Jul 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

> Mind you meths would be as bad.

Meths isn't pressurised, unlike petrol stoves.

It's that jet of burning petrol that makes petrol stoves so worrying.

1
captain paranoia 30 Jul 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

> But petrol is *really* dangerous...imagine the vapour amassing in the tent and then..

Gas leaks do that, too...

All stoves have their risks.

capoap 30 Jul 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

I knew a guy who tried and succeeded in changing a camping gas bottle without unscrewing the head. He thought that if he hit it hard enough the point would puncture the bottle. It did indeed fit in after he had covered his hands and arms with liquid gas. He then lit it, you could hear the screams from 1/2 a mile away.......No skin on his arms and hands and he sobered up very quickly.  

marsbar 30 Jul 2018
In reply to Rob Parsons:

I always worry about flare ups when I light a petrol stove.  Is there a way to avoid this?  

I had a pump failure resulting in petrol escaping which would have been an issue in a tent.  I'm far more cautious with liquid fuel stoves generally.

I've used a remote cannister gas stove in a tent carefully and had no problems.  

 I wasn't drunk enough at any point to forget to light it and I didn't have children in the tent. 

marsbar 30 Jul 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

I think gas leaks are rarer?  

1
marsbar 30 Jul 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

Incorrect storage is a big worry with meths.  Particularly as it is bought in plastic bottles.  Very unpleasant D of E incident when some idiot allowed children to use 5 litre bottles

 

https://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2013/01/30/fine-for-newham-council-after-dofe-teen-scarred-for-life-in-stove-fire#

Slightly off topic as not in a tent, sorry.

Post edited at 15:13
LastBoyScout 30 Jul 2018
In reply to capoap:

I remember someone on a Scout hike many years ago that tried to change one of those CampingGaz pierceable C206 cartidges on a stove without unscrewing it properly - resulted in the entire contents of the gas being sprayed around part of the New Forest.

As it happens, it turns out I was really glad I wasn't using my stove in our tent yesterday, as it seems the seal on the hose from the gas canister has perished and it was leaking a bit of fuel, which caught light, although I was able to blow it out and carry on. Good job it was on a concrete floor at the time.

Someone I know once set fire to their kitchen while testing an eBay-bought MSR with faulty seals, which sprayed lit petrol all over the place and required the fire brigade to sort out.

LastBoyScout 30 Jul 2018
In reply to marsbar:

Rarer, yes, but they still happen - see my post above...

trouserburp 30 Jul 2018
In reply to gethin_allen:

> This would probably only help you in an old scout patrol tent as a modern nylon thing would burn through faster than you could find the knife.

How fast do tents burn now? Most say fire-retardant

Say you knock a gas stove over against the tent inner wall, awake and sober, have you got time to unzip and get out?

toad 30 Jul 2018
In reply to trouserburp: the most common festival tent theft methodology is for scroats to burn their way in with a lighter

Its silent and you can make a big hole quickly. Its messy but doesnt set fire to the tent

 

Dave the Rave 30 Jul 2018
In reply to pasbury:

> Agreed - I had a series of Coleman Peak 1 stoves and it's an absolute miracle that I never blew myself up.

I had one of these back in the early 90s. Loved it and loathed it. I used to take it on day walks to make a tin of soup in the winter and it’s roar was satisfying.

The bastard had some gnarly flare ups though. Once when wild camping I was making a morning brew and porridge in the porch. The fecker flared up about 3 feet. I slung the fecker outside and grabbed the bottom of Whisky Daves sleeping bag, with him still in it asleep, and dragged him outside. Luckily the tent didn’t catch but Whisky was less than impressed, and a little shocked at waking in the rain.

The Peak Feather now lies somewhere at the bottom of Small Water where it will flare no more.

Footloose 30 Jul 2018
In reply to elsewhere:

> ... if cooking in a tent to have a sharp knife ready to cut your way out if trapped.

Better still, just don't - tents are such flammable things. If you cook downwind of your tent, it protects you and your flame from the weather and the wind will blow the flame away from the tent.

DenzelLN 30 Jul 2018
In reply to LastBoyScout:

Before i got into climbing i used to be an avid carp angler and used to do a lot of night fishing, and as such have used petrol stoves inside bivvies (tents), also heard the odd story from syndicate members of people passing out due to fumes and setting their tents on fire.

The funniest one was a guy was night fishing and got a bite during the night, clearly disorientated he ran straight past his rods and fell in the lake, and promptly lost the fish. Sat in his tent, soaking and freezing cold he decided to strip off and dry his clothes over his coleman, this didn't pan out too well as he set his clothes and tent on fire and converted the lot into an amalgamated plastic mess which contained his phone and car keys. Luckily the anglers next door helped him out and rang his wife to ease him of his now naked/cold/wet condition!

Ive nearly done it myself with the petrol stoves that you pump up, have to be really careful as they can shoot some big flames until the fuel feed pipe has warmed up.

Post edited at 17:50
syv_k 30 Jul 2018
In reply to Footloose:

> Better still, just don't - tents are such flammable things.

Indeed - our whole family have a delightful catchphrase after meeting a Scottish couple who told us of their misadventure and learning experience in an absolutely gorgeous accent:

”If yoo coook in a tent it burrrrrrns.”

 

Fredt 30 Jul 2018
In reply to pasbury:

> Agreed - I had a series of Coleman Peak 1 stoves and it's an absolute miracle that I never blew myself up.

Ah the old Peak 1. Last saw mine disappearing in a fiery arc down the North Face of the Droites, not hurled in any act of self preservation, just sheer anger and frustration.

Post edited at 19:36
gethin_allen 30 Jul 2018
In reply to trouserburp:

> How fast do tents burn now? Most say fire-retardant

This is a good point, I have various new and old tents and only one do I know for sure is fire retardant. 

Anyone know if siliconised nylon is fire retardant?

wercat 30 Jul 2018
In reply to DenzelLN:

I still have images in my memory of small groups of people at school huddled in the wild, around primus stoves learning how to use them, priming with meths and then pumping furiously after an arbitrary pause for the element to heat up.

Every so often a there would be a belch of flame inside one of the groups and its members would explode outwards to escape the Big Bang which seemed imminent.  Sometimes a misguided but brave youth would try to kick the incendiary bomb over thinking that would help.

Generally inexperience but some of the stoves had been in stores/were so old/had been abused so often that they were somewhat leaky.  Then there were the ancient compo rations to be dealt with ...

No one who has used one of those would think of using one inside any but a quite a large tent with a detachment of experienced firefighters in attendance.

Post edited at 19:54
Dave the Rave 30 Jul 2018
In reply to Fredt:

> Ah the old Peak 1. Last saw mine disappearing in a fiery arc down the North Face of the Droites, not hurled in any act of self preservation, just sheer anger and frustration.

Mine went a similar way. Shall we form a club? 

KellyKettle 30 Jul 2018
In reply to LastBoyScout:

> Someone I know once set fire to their kitchen while testing an eBay-bought MSR with faulty seals, which sprayed lit petrol all over the place and required the fire brigade to sort out.

 

Snap, had a very similar experience with a *mystery* spare MSR pump (as far as I knew I only had one, which is stored with my XKG) found in a box of old gear when I moved house...

Thankfully, I was suspicious enough of the general condition it was in to test it outside on a concrete slab... Unfortunately the slow leak only made itself known after I'd lit the priming cup, so it still got a bit fireball-y and hair singeing.

 

Eric9Points 30 Jul 2018
In reply to wercat:

 

 

> No one who has used one of those would think of using one inside any but a quite a large tent with a detachment of experienced firefighters in attendance.

I did.

toad 30 Jul 2018
In reply to LastBoyScout:

Not necessarily the same thing, but because i have a ridiculously overspecced over priced nordic tipi thing, i use a dirty great wood burner in my tent. And i love it

Post edited at 21:53
capoap 30 Jul 2018
In reply to gethin_allen:

I don't know about modern  tents but about 30 years back I was cooking under the flysheet of a Vango  and a peg came out allowing the flysheet to hit the stove.  We are talking second's before the whole flysheet was burning followed by the inner tent,  I just had time to get out turn and pull the g/f out by the sleeping bag she was in.  Even so burning material landed in her hair which caught fire.

The whole thing was just smouldering seams with-in 5 seconds   

browndog33 30 Jul 2018
In reply to pasbury:

I've just bought one!

pasbury 30 Jul 2018
In reply to browndog33:

The petrol one? I didn’t know they still made them! I have to admit I really enjoyed using the little rocket back in the day. But it was a temperamental bastard if you didn’t use white gas (Coleman fuel) and tried to feed it with unleaded.

Three foot high columns of flame, yellow sooty gubbins, delayed ignition in the cold followed by small fireballs were all part of the fun. Then there was the risk of leaky sigg bottles, or sigg bottles done up so tightly to avoid leakage that you had to use a tent pole to open them.

My MSR pocket rocket does seem a little more modern than that old bugger.

browndog33 30 Jul 2018
In reply to pasbury:

Yep coleman featherlite peak 1.

It's unused but not sure how old it is? (Bought from ebay literally the other day).

Post edited at 22:55
pasbury 30 Jul 2018
In reply to browndog33:

In their defence, when they’re running well the loud purring sound they make is very satisfying. Don’t even try simmering anything for any length of time though, you’ll get the alternating quiet purr, yellow sooty fireball feature.

Eric9Points 30 Jul 2018
In reply to pasbury:

> The petrol one? I didn’t know they still made them! I have to admit I really enjoyed using the little rocket back in the day. But it was a temperamental bastard if you didn’t use white gas (Coleman fuel) and tried to feed it with unleaded.

 

Did you ever try that with a Trangia? Certainly not something you try inside a tent.

Baron Weasel 31 Jul 2018
In reply to marsbar:

> I think gas leaks are rarer?  

Got told a story about a scout camp where a kid had one of those stoves that punched a hole directly into canister, but didn't complete the seal and had a gas leak that got ignited by a near by stove. I think skin grafts were necessary from the resulting wounds.

Siward 31 Jul 2018
In reply to pasbury:

Yep, the purr is where it's at. I've always  still do, used paraffin to fuel stoves. It can flare up when lighting although that can easily be avoided but it's principal benefit is that it's far less likely to blow up than petrol. Petrol in a stove, I ask you! 

marsbar 31 Jul 2018
In reply to Baron Weasel:

I don't like those pierce type stoves.  

wercat 31 Jul 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

I have to confess to taking an Optimus to the alps a couple of times before seeing the light and buying a Trangia.  I did love that Optimus!    It destroyed a panel of my tent on a climbing trip to Devon when a fellow club member kicked a football my way just as the ignition sequence was in progress, spilling burning meths and paraffin everywhere.

Fortunately said member had already agreed to buy that tent and I held him to it (to his credit he bought it and replaced the panel, worthwhile as it was a Phoenix Phantom).

Post edited at 08:18
wercat 31 Jul 2018
In reply to pasbury:

The primus/optimus stoves used to produce a loud throbbing pur when running well, could imagine one powering a V1 flying bomb to replace the pulse jet!  Used to frighten some club members.

Trangia 31 Jul 2018
In reply to Fredt:

> Ah the old Peak 1. Last saw mine disappearing in a fiery arc down the North Face of the Droites, not hurled in any act of self preservation, just sheer anger and frustration.

I trust that once you had recovered your composure, you went down and  searched the base of the face so that you could retrieve your litter............?

Post edited at 08:25
Neil Williams 31 Jul 2018
In reply to wercat:

I do love pratting about with an old Primus, and for getting a cast iron frying pan properly hot for a good fry-up there's little to beat one, but not in a tent

LastBoyScout 31 Jul 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

I have many childhood memories of being away with my family and grandparents - the Primus would always come out at lunchtime to get the kettle on.

My Dad still has it, I believe - tucked away somwhere in the garage. It lived in an old motorcycle top box, complete with fuel, tea bags and so on.

wercat 31 Jul 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

For a complete camping experience you need to eat the pan contents in the semicircle of light cast by an aromatic paraffin hurricane lantern suspended from the apex of the tent opening ...

I jest not but I used to go on multi day walking and camping trips round weardale and teesdale carrying an optimus and hurricane lantern back in the 70s when I could first afford a tent, sleeping bag etc.

Neil Williams 31 Jul 2018
In reply to LastBoyScout:

I found an old double burner one in a wooden box in the Scout hut and cleaned it up, it's unbeatable for cooking the morning fry-up if you can't be bothered getting the fire going yet.  Even the heavyweight Foker cast iron gas things we've got don't come close.

Rog Wilko 31 Jul 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

>Mind you meths would be as bad.

Doesn't meths burn at much lower temperature than petrol? Not that I'm any sort of authority on this (or anything else, to tell the truth) - just asking.

 

Timmd 31 Jul 2018
In reply to Trangia:

> Ah the old Peak 1. Last saw mine disappearing in a fiery arc down the North Face of the Droites, not hurled in any act of self preservation, just sheer anger and frustration.

> I trust that once you had recovered your composure, you went down and  searched the base of the face so that you could retrieve your litter............?

Perhaps it saved a very cold and thirsty person's life (or bacon) ?    

Post edited at 13:27
Fredt 31 Jul 2018
In reply to Trangia:

> I trust that once you had recovered your composure, you went down and  searched the base of the face so that you could retrieve your litter............?

I doubt we would have found it amongst all the rubble the quartz hunters were hurling down the face. We thought our bivi was pretty sheltered until they all arrived with their hammers and crowbars.

nufkin 31 Jul 2018
In reply to gethin_allen:

>  Anyone know if siliconised nylon is fire retardant?

Wouldn't want to say with absolute certainty, but my own anecdotal experience is that the inner of my Hilleberg stood up to a reasonable amount of stove flame when trying to get rid of midge swarms in a fit of desperation.

And the outer has so far not succumbed to stove heat from porch cooking, though admittedly it's not been so closely applied

Neil Williams 31 Jul 2018
In reply to Rog Wilko:

> Doesn't meths burn at much lower temperature than petrol? Not that I'm any sort of authority on this (or anything else, to tell the truth) - just asking.

It does (you can quickly light some on the back of your hand as long as you don't leave it burning, or play throw and (not) catch with a meths soaked tennis ball, not that I've done either of those things, honest ) but it'll still set your tent going if you spill it inside then it lights.

Post edited at 15:29
Rog Wilko 31 Jul 2018
In reply to Neil Williams:

I was thinking more in terms of burns.

Timmd 01 Aug 2018
In reply to toad:

> the most common festival tent theft methodology is for scroats to burn their way in with a lighter

> Its silent and you can make a big hole quickly. Its messy but doesnt set fire to the tent

While going to sleep I found myself thinking that something which went 'bang' in their faces could be satisfying (in principle). ;-) 

Post edited at 00:40
tallsteve 01 Aug 2018
In reply to LastBoyScout:

Whilst camping on Skye I saw a guy change the gas bottle of his stove in the porch with a mozzy coil burning nearby.  A blue flash, 20 seconds, and a some yelling and running later the rest of the campsite were stood around a ring of fire, blackened poles still curved nicely, and a down bag burning merrily when some wag commented, "I'll go get my sausages."

Whilst in Australia my brother in law changed a canister on one of those square burners you can buy now that take long gas cannisters.  He had another next to it still lit. Over the balcony hung paper trees with long lengths of papery bark hanging down.  As he screwed the new cannister in the spike punctured the cannister rather than open the valve and gas under pressure began to burst out.  Flame thrower like flames bust forth and the whole thing heated up to become incredibly hot.  A nearby length of bark began to curl in the heat, but thankfully didn't light.  A wet towel from the bathroom rescued the entire complex of flats, and the kangaroo burgers


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