Loaded firearms add danger to house blaze


April 10, 2003, 04:48 PM
The Myrtle Beach Sun-News

April 10, 2003 Thursday TSN EDITION


LENGTH: 214 words

HEADLINE: Loaded firearms add danger to house blaze

BYLINE: By Kelly M. Burch; The Sun News


A Georgetown man was rescued from his burning home after his neighbor heard ammunition and loaded guns stored inside the home exploding early Wednesday morning.

Firefighters used extra caution in fighting the 3:45 a.m. blaze after a neighbor said Barry Marsh, the homeowner, had a large gun collection and some of them were loaded.

He said he had heard some bullets firing inside the house on Harvest Moon Avenue in the Winyah community before emergency workers arrived.

"He had about 15 or 20 guns," said Georgetown County Assistant Fire Chief Jesse Cooper. "His trophy room where he had his gun case was where the fire started. By the time we got there, there was no more shooting."

Marsh was sleeping in a back room when the fire started. He was not hurt by the blaze.

Cooper said Georgetown County sheriff's deputies were called after Marsh attempted to retrieve some items from the burning house.

Cooper said the fire does not look suspicious. Marsh had complained about a smell of smoke in the residence about two weeks ago. He said the fire could have been caused by an electrical problem.

"We turned it over to him and his insurance company," Cooper said. "It did not appear to be deliberately set."

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Steve Smith
April 10, 2003, 04:49 PM
Sorry, I don't believe it.

April 10, 2003, 04:52 PM
I suppose if they were all chambered and it got real hot, there might be a problem.

April 10, 2003, 05:05 PM
redacted for stupidity

April 10, 2003, 05:09 PM
God, I'd be in trouble -- 600 rounds of ammo and no safe for them.:what:

April 10, 2003, 05:23 PM
I'm surprised they called it a "collection" and not an "arsenal" :rolleyes:

Good Lord man, what would Anyone need with 20 guns?? :D

April 10, 2003, 05:34 PM
Do the people of Boston know of this evil weapons cache you maintain in their midst?
Tell you what, just to keep you out of trouble, I'll come over and help you shoot it all up.
That's what friends are for, right? :D

Double Maduro
April 10, 2003, 05:49 PM
Several years ago my wife and I were in bed reading. It was the summer time and all of the windows were open. I heard screams that sounded like they were coming from one of our neighbors houses. I jumped out of bed, tossed on my robe, grabbed a revolver and headed out to see if I could help.

When I opened the bedroom door the room next to ours was full of smoke. The screams had been from our daughter in another room and the sound traveled out her window and sounded like it was coming from outside.

Put the gun down, got all the people and most of the critters out of the house. Went back in to get the daughters cat, bad idea, if I hadn't been on the stairs I wouldn't have been able to find my way out again.

Anyway, when the fire department showed up I told them about the loaded revolver on my desk and that they should be careful. Their response was that it posed no danger to them or anyone else at all.

By the way, found the daughters cat the next morning under the couch in the living room, unharmed but pissed. This cat woke the daughter up, the fire started in her room, and saved not only her life but probably ours too. Good Kitty.

April 10, 2003, 05:53 PM
I'm not really surprised they didn't call it an arsenal. It DID happen in SC, after all. Glad he wasn't hurt.

April 10, 2003, 05:59 PM
I hope he had good insurance coverage.:( Those poor guns, they never had a chance.;)

April 10, 2003, 06:40 PM
Every so often you'll see a story about some genius who decides to hide a gun in the oven, forgets about it, and turns the oven on. If the gun is an autoloader, it will indeed fire and cycle the ammo in the weapon.


As I understand it, ammo that isn't in a gun doesn't represent nearly as much danger because there's nothing to contain the pressure to push the bullet.

April 10, 2003, 07:05 PM
:scrutiny: :scrutiny:

April 10, 2003, 07:21 PM
They detonate, but don't pose a significant hazard.
Sure does keep the looky lous back though. :D

April 10, 2003, 07:28 PM
A fire starting and then setting weapons off that were on the wall, sure. But in the safe? I dunno about that. BTW, the guy was an idiot for leaving firearms in his safe that were loaded.

April 10, 2003, 07:49 PM
BTW, the guy was an idiot for leaving firearms in his safe that were loaded.

75% of the firearms in my safes are loaded and I have far more than 20 guns. Nothing wrong, illegal or hazardous about having loaded guns in a safe.

Standing Wolf
April 10, 2003, 08:48 PM
All my .22 caliber guns are unloaded. All my center fire guns are loaded.

In the event of a fire, I'll run like @#$%^&! outdoors. In the event of a burglar, I don't want to have to waste time loading firearms because it might have been a fire.

April 10, 2003, 09:59 PM
:scrutiny: :scrutiny:
What he said.

Billy Sparks
April 11, 2003, 08:35 AM
Years ago the NRA (might have been the NFPA) did a test as to the effect of fire on loose ammo and what effect it would have to firefighters. What they found is that when loose ammo cooks off, due to there being no chamber or barrel to direct the force of the ignition the bullet and case go there seperate ways. The turnout gear we wear generally provides sufficent protection. Now there is danger if a loaded weapon cooks off due a barrel and chamber the bullet does present a danger. This happened in Florida when a M1 carbine fired a round into the Batt Chief's car as he arrived at a well involved house fire.

Matt G
April 11, 2003, 09:27 AM
As long as the rounds aren't chambered, there's no real hazard.

ALL chambered rounds that cook off are a hazard, however --and that includes rounds not under the hammer in a revolver! :what:

For real fun, semi-autos that are clear of obstruction could technically function during a cook-off, causing multiple shots from a single gun. That said, I'd find it unlikely that a round in the chamber would cook off before one in the magazine gave, which would cause a S.A. to cease to feed. If you keep your 1911 in condition One, it should only fire once, as the safety locks up the slide.

April 11, 2003, 09:52 AM
Quote: "If the gun is an autoloader, it will indeed fire and cycle the ammo in the weapon. "

Agree the one in chamber a problem. Immediately thereafter, a very high probability of malfunction. The ultimate "limp wrisitng". ;)

April 11, 2003, 11:27 AM
My wife's cousin been a firefighter for almost 20 years.

I've asked him about ammo and loaded firearms in a fire and his response was that its not a problem or concern (I don't know the igniion point of powder, but lead melts at about 600*). He was mildly concerned about the powder or primers in the garage. His primary conerns were the car, lawnmower, gallon of gas, propane tank, etc.

Don Gwinn
April 11, 2003, 12:01 PM
Theoretically, Matt, if you clamped the grip in a vice and took a torch to the part of the slide that surrounds the chamber, you ought to be able to cook off rounds in succession. The vise might help by creating a bit of a heat sink in the grip.

If you welded the leads from an induction heat-treating machine to the slide, you could probably empty the magazine faster.

All this is speculation of a nonsensical and errant nature. I am not responsible for the maiming or mutilating injuiries any chuckleheads may receive by actually attempting to do the stupid things I ponder.

Mike Irwin
April 11, 2003, 02:12 PM
Ammo sitting around in boxes, etc., is not a problem.

Ammo in the chamber of a handgun or rifle, or in the chambers of a revolver, however, CAN be a big problem.

April 12, 2003, 04:07 AM
I would imagine that firefighters are probably more worried about other things, like burning alive or having a burning building collapse on them or getting asphyxiated. getting hit by ammo would probably be last on the list.

Matt G
April 12, 2003, 06:51 AM
Agree the one in chamber a problem. Immediately thereafter, a very high probability of malfunction. The ultimate "limp wrisitng".

Hmph. Limp wristing is a phenomenon that seems to occur when one least wants it to, and NEVER when one wishes to demonstrate it. I've many times hung a 1911 upside down by the trigger guard from one finger, and used another to make it fire repeatedly. Limp wristing --with my 18# spring and stout hardball loads --doesn't seem to happen for me. A semi-auto rifle would not suffer from limp wristing, either. (I doubt I'm the only one here with an SKS in the front closet!) Dunno whether plastic shotshells and wadcups would melt below the flashpoint of SG powder, but there's a BUNCH of folks with SA SG's for home protection.

The real likelyhood of malfunction would be, to me, that there would be a very high likelyhood that the ejection port would be blocked.

April 12, 2003, 07:57 AM
This has been discussed many times over the years. I have spent the last 11 years working as a firefighter and have almost no concern about this at all. When I have been on fires where ammo was cooking off, no one there paid it the least attention. I have been on a house fire where my Captain got hit in the chest with a bullet as he was standing out in the street in front of the house. The bullet fell harmlessly to the ground.
As has been mentioned, there are a lot more serious things to worry about. Cheif among them would be building collapse to also include roof mounted air conditioning units coming through the roof. Propane tanks are also high on the list.

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