AZ Home Ammo Explodes


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Yo Mama
July 12, 2009, 02:34 PM
http://www.abc15.com/content/news/phoenixmetro/south/story/Fire-crews-face-flames-exploding-ammo-at-Phoenix/XPdUOc9NUkyTEhslbhXuaA.cspx?rss=704

News article I saw on tv on a home here in AZ that caught fire, and the ammo inside exploded.

I've been told that they will let your house burn down to the foundation if a crew showed up and bullets started exploding. I was also infored this wasn't a bad thing as the home is easier to rebuild. :D

How do you store your ammo, and do you even worry about this?

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SDC
July 12, 2009, 02:52 PM
No, ammo doesn't "explode"; it WILL "cook off", and make all sorts of banging and popping noises, but it wouldn't be hazardous in any event, unless you were holding that super-heated round in your hand. Even if it WERE to cook off, the only part you'd need to be even remotely concerned about is having a lightweight piece of sharp brass come flying at you, which can't even make it through a cardboard box, let alone a heavy firefighter's coat.

divemedic
July 12, 2009, 02:54 PM
Every fire has its own dangers. Burning ammo is a small risk, and to be honest the fact that the home was known to be unoccupied, and the fire had already self ventilated were probably just as much of a factor in the decision to go defensive.

A fire that has self vented (in other words burned through the roof/walls) has entered what is known as the 'free burning' phase- and this is when the heat produced by the fire is most intense. I usually have my crew go defensive at that point as well, especially in an unoccupied single family dwelling.

It is all about risk versus benefit- the home is a total loss, there is no risk of loss of life, so why put emergency crews inside, and risk an injury to them? Risk a little to save a lot, risk nothing to save nothing.

TexasRifleman
July 12, 2009, 03:15 PM
How do you store your ammo, and do you even worry about this?

I don't worry about it because it doesn't happen.

Ammo not in a gun does not "shoot bullets at firefighters" like this news story I saw on Fox News claimed.

The bullet is heavier than the casing so physics says the casing is likely to fly farther than the bullet unless it's in the confines of a gun's chamber.

This is the media at work, as usual.

chris in va
July 12, 2009, 05:29 PM
The bullet is heavier than the casing so physics says the casing is likely to fly farther than the bullet unless it's in the confines of a gun's chamber.

Fine. I invite everyone to stand in front of a box of 357's that gets thrown in a campfire. No takers?

PTK
July 12, 2009, 05:33 PM
Fine. I invite everyone to stand in front of a box of 357's that gets thrown in a campfire. No takers?

Strawman. ;)

The 4.6mm Colibri has less energy than a Daisy Red Ryder, does anyone volunteer to be shot with it?

That argument doesn't mean it's powerful.

jerkface11
July 12, 2009, 05:37 PM
Fine. I invite everyone to stand in front of a box of 357's that gets thrown in a campfire. No takers?

How much does it pay and do I get to wear a full set of firemans safety equipment?

Toonces
July 12, 2009, 05:44 PM
The American Rifleman did an article on this a few years back. I thought I had saved it, but I cannot find it at this moment. If I remember correctly (I think I do, but I'm not 100% positive), it was the primers that flew with the most velocity and did damage. The primers could just barely penetrate a heavily used firefighter's coat, but not a new one. It's not likely to be lethal, but is probably not fun. I wouldn't worry about my ammo, powder, or primers in the event of a fire. They are all going to burn, and I doubt they are going to be any more dangerous than the canned food in the kitchen.

From personal experience, I had a round of .38 Special wadcutter cook off in a metal bucket full of brass put on top of the wood stove to dry it out after some winter shooting. It was about as loud as a .22 L.R. being fired, flung some pieces of brass out of the bucket, and scared the crap out of everybody in camp. PM me if you would like me to send you a picture showing the remains of the case, bullet, and primer. By sheer luck, nobody was injured. This was a good illustration of the saying "Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement." Needless to say, I won't try to dry brass in that manner again.

TEDDY
July 12, 2009, 05:46 PM
I was at a machinegun shoot when there was a hang fire which got ejected.
the rd mad a snap like a cap gun and th case flew 25 feet to land in front of my wife, the gunner got a cut on arm when the case flew by.
so what do you want to prove with the handful of 357s,that it scatered the fire or that you ========.

rcmodel
July 12, 2009, 05:48 PM
We just covered what happens to ammo in a fire pretty good two days ago.

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=461418&highlight=ammo+in+fire

rc

Vern Humphrey
July 12, 2009, 05:49 PM
Fine. I invite everyone to stand in front of a box of 357's that gets thrown in a campfire. No takers?
While wearing a heavy coat, trousers, and face protection. Sure, no problem.

How much are you paying?

TexasRifleman
July 12, 2009, 05:50 PM
Fine. I invite everyone to stand in front of a box of 357's that gets thrown in a campfire. No takers?

In firefighter gear and face shield? Sure. In a t-shirt? You're gonna get cut by flying brass. That's hardly the same thing as having the bullet coming at you at muzzle velocity. Again, it's just physics.

You act like this has never been tested or observed before. I assure you it has been.

Even the boys at Mybusters did this one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BX1kvJVrjc

And the thread linked above shows some very interesting pictures by rcmodel. Notice in his pictures the results, as physics says they should be. The heavy bullets don't go anywhere, the light brass gets blown around pretty good.

The Lone Haranguer
July 12, 2009, 07:25 PM
I think sensationalism had more to do with that story than actual events. There are plenty of things we keep in our homes that are as or more dangerous than ammo stashes.

gunnie
July 12, 2009, 07:33 PM
the most worrisome being a large propane tank in the back yard.

gunnie

freakshow10mm
July 12, 2009, 07:42 PM
Fine. I invite everyone to stand in front of a box of 357's that gets thrown in a campfire. No takers?
I'll do it. T-shirt and shorts. Pay my travel, lodging, meals and I'll do it. Hell I can even bring a few friends.

Titan6
July 12, 2009, 07:48 PM
You guys are overlooking the possibility that there may be ammo stored in a gun. A semi-auto can fire many rounds on it's own. About once a year you see a news story about some guy who stores his weapon in the oven, forgets about it and then the rounds start cooking off when he is trying to heat up some pizza.

Vern Humphrey
July 12, 2009, 07:51 PM
About once a year you see a news story about some guy who stores his weapon in the oven, forgets about it and then the rounds start cooking off when he is trying to heat up some pizza.
I've never seen such a news story!

btg3
July 12, 2009, 08:59 PM
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,340688,00.html

JohnBT
July 12, 2009, 09:10 PM
That's the only one I've ever seen or heard of. I'll be 59 soon. JT

toivo
July 12, 2009, 09:11 PM
Does primer cook off first because it's more volatile? If so, I would guess that the process goes something like this:

1) primer cooks off
2) case splits and pieces fly all over
3) loose powder burns up
4) bullet just sits there

It sounds like you wouldn't be in much danger if you were wearing eye protection and heavy clothes. However, if we're talking about a large quantity of ammo, then the air is going to be filled with flying scraps of brass. Not catastrophic, but not so good for the firefighters.

toivo
July 12, 2009, 09:14 PM
About once a year you see a news story about some guy who stores his weapon in the oven, forgets about it and then the rounds start cooking off when he is trying to heat up some pizza.

That's the only one I've ever seen or heard of. I'll be 59 soon.

I'm 55, and I've never even heard of anybody keeping a gun in the oven. Wouldn't the fridge be safer? Too much risk of condensation?

gunnie
July 12, 2009, 10:18 PM
..."Does primer cook off first because it's more volatile?"...

more volatile, thinner metal, and much less heat sink than the case has.

gunnie

PS- wonder what a microwave would do?

:-)

chuckusaret
July 12, 2009, 10:54 PM
The myth about getting killed by rounds thrown in a fire was proved to be BS when I was a kid. Back in the day when on the Boy Scout summer jamboree we use to booby trap the other troops by placing ammo in their camp fires. The first year it was done it got their attention, but in later years everyone thought it was a waste of good ammo. During this time I think two 12 ga. Rounds (Paper casings) cost a nickel at the Western Auto Store. Hey that was a lot of money, a six pack of Coke was two bits( a quarter), a loaf of bread was ten cents and gas was $00.16 a gallon.

JR47
July 13, 2009, 01:35 PM
You guys are overlooking the possibility that there may be ammo stored in a gun. A semi-auto can fire many rounds on it's own. About once a year you see a news story about some guy who stores his weapon in the oven, forgets about it and then the rounds start cooking off when he is trying to heat up some pizza.

Ok, let's take a look at this. Ammunition stored in the gun? Where? Chambered or in the magazine? A magazine full of ammunition wouldn't cook off in any appreciable order, except that the magazine itself, being thinner than the frame, would invite the BOTTOM round to cook off first.

Chambered round? Ok, the chambered round WILL, eventually, cook off, and fire. Now, how much velocity is open to question, as the round may simply be hot enough to explode, venting into the magazine. Still, a semi-auto wouldn't go full-auto in your scenario. It would, at most, chamber a second round, or attempt to, as the lack of anything restricting the recoil forces should result in a jam. Even if it did chamber another round, THAT round would have to be heated to the point where IT would cook off. Doesn't sound to viable to me. How about you?

Vern Humphrey
July 13, 2009, 01:40 PM
Chambered round? Ok, the chambered round WILL, eventually, cook off, and fire. Now, how much velocity is open to question, as the round may simply be hot enough to explode, venting into the magazine. Still, a semi-auto wouldn't go full-auto in your scenario. It would, at most, chamber a second round, or attempt to, as the lack of anything restricting the recoil forces should result in a jam.

Since the barrel and receiver would tend to act as a heat sink, I would expect the round in the chamber to be cooler than those in the magazine. That means the rounds in the magazine would go first, simply venting gas harmlessly, before the chambered round went. That would pretty much preclude a second round being chambered.

rcmodel
July 13, 2009, 01:43 PM
+1

No chance of the ones in a magazine lasting as long as the one in the chamber.

Now all the ammo in a revolver cylinder is a different story!
In that case you would have a run-away gun firing several shots.

rc

ezypikns
July 13, 2009, 02:21 PM
that throwing live ammo into a fire and standing around it (the fire) is probably not a good idea?

Yo Mama
July 13, 2009, 02:23 PM
^ unless I got a bullet proof barier between me and the fire :D

rainbowbob
July 13, 2009, 02:31 PM
"Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement."

I'm 58 (since we're admitting our age in this thread) - and I've never that "old" saying.

I like it.

toivo
July 13, 2009, 02:33 PM
Now all the ammo in a revolver cylinder is a different story!
In that case you would have a run-away gun firing several shots.

IMO, only the one under the hammer would fire. The rounds in the cylinder would go just like loose rounds: primer cooks off, case splits, etc. They aren't sealed in at the back--plenty of room for case to rupture.

No?

Vern Humphrey
July 13, 2009, 03:21 PM
IMO, only the one under the hammer would fire. The rounds in the cylinder would go just like loose rounds: primer cooks off, case splits, etc. They aren't sealed in at the back--plenty of room for case to rupture.

No?
No. There have been tests firing revolvers with the barrel removed. They don't shoot accurately, but they do shoot. So rounds that cooked off in the cylinder would definitely be dangerous.

toivo
July 13, 2009, 04:25 PM
There have been tests firing revolvers with the barrel removed. They don't shoot accurately, but they do shoot. So rounds that cooked off in the cylinder would definitely be dangerous.

In these tests, were the rounds set off by the hammer? I'm asking because I'm thinking that then they would be locked up in the cylinder. Cartridges elsewhere in the cylinder wouldn't be locked up. Wouldn't the cases rupture and vent backwards when the primers cooked off?

DISCLAIMER: I'm just thinking out loud here. I'm definitely no expert!

rcmodel
July 13, 2009, 04:32 PM
No, they wouldn't.

Most all revolvers have the same head-space clearance for at least a part of the recoil shield all the around the cylinder. On a S&W for instance, there is a cut on the left side about rim thickness where the cylinder pin swings out. The rest of the recoil shield holds the rounds in just about the same place as when they are being fired.

But all of the cartridges would be stopped before backing out far enough to blow out the case wall.

Looking at a six shot revovler, 5 of the 6 are open in the front and would fire bullets normally.
Only the bottom chamber would be aligned with the frame, and that bullet would have trouble getting out. But something would have to give anyway, and the very hot cylinder might just blow out.

rc

toivo
July 13, 2009, 04:45 PM
Thanks, rcmodel and Vern.

Note to self: check batteries in smoke alarm...

flying_gage
July 13, 2009, 05:38 PM
it was believed the family and pets had left Saturday morning, possibly on a vacation.

Phoenix is a very progressive firefighting community. They are vocal in regards to fighting defensively when it is known that there is no life danger. My dept is heading that direction, but.... we will still go in if there is a question as to the location of the occupants. The first 5 minutes of a fire are intensely chaotic and oftentimes there is no way to confirm with absolute certainty as to where the occupants are. Therefore, dictating offensive tactics to confirm the absence.

Not trying to contradict divemedic by any means, but a freeburning fire is oftentimes the easiest fire to fight as the smoke conditions are less and you can visualize the seat of the fire. The smoke is what kills and makes our jobs exponentially more difficult. I would rather go in a house where the fire has vented through a window, (vented through a roof makes it a tougher decision) than one where the house is "charged" with smoke and heat.

In terms of the OP's question in terms of storage, I am a big fan of old deep freezers. Throw a pad lock on it and you are good to go. Sadly, I have first hand experience as my house burned to the foundation and the stand up freezer survived it, albeit in less than optimal condition.

Being inside a room, or worse yet in a basement, with exploding ammunition would be incredibly disconcerting. In a rocking fire, your senses are balanced on a razors edge at times and the introduction of ammo cooking off and being hit by shrapnel, (however safe it may be) would topple most firefighter's psyche that I have had the priviledge of working with. That toppling of mental control could lead to the loss of lives.

I guess that puts me on the side of the Phoenix Chief who was on scene, huh?

JR47
July 13, 2009, 06:59 PM
Does anyone actually have access to that "test" about the revolver's discharge velocity? I'd be curious at what is possible when there is absolutely zero barrel, just the cylinder. Much of the velocity imparted is while the gas forms behind the bullet, in the barrel. There would only be as much pressure as causes the bullet to move, venting the gas into the atmosphere of the rounds not firing into the barrel.

As for the freestanding fire, the rate of combustion is highest in the free-standing fire, and it's moving the fastest. Having vented through the roof, it will pull the smoke out, but the heat is up, and the structure has suffered weakening of the walls and roof.

There is a difference between a free-burning fire, and a fire that has been ventilated. Normally, the free-burning structure has sustained more massive damage. Arriving early, and ventilating the structure, normally allows the smoke and heat to be reduced, allowing for better visibility, with the attendant ease of extinguishing that makes for. This prevents the damage associated with the fire venting itself.

Our first due, in Maryland, had literally hundreds of triple address Garden Style Apartments. None were sprinkled, and the addition of cable lines, DSL lines, and so on, had Swiss-cheesed the fire stops. General SOP was that arrival with a burning roof allowed for 5 minutes to bring the fire under control. After that, you pulled back to defensive operations. Far enough back that a wall collapse didn't catch you or your men.

damien
July 13, 2009, 07:14 PM
I remember an episode of CSI where there was a box of bullets in the trunk of a car that caught on fire. They showed the bullets cooking off and shooting holes through the trunk lid. :rolleyes:

Something similar happened in the very stupid movie Shoot 'Em Up.

The media will continue to sell these lies as long as they think that people will believe it. Portrayals of how computers work have gotten much more accurate over the years as more and more people have become familiar with them. Maybe we can help by taking everyone to the range.

Titan6
July 13, 2009, 08:53 PM
Hmmm.... seems we are suffering from a combination of an overwhelming faith in the intelligence of humans and a misunderstanding about how an oven works. Very unusual for THR. So here are some articles to amuse you with:

Mythbusters. Video proof of what I am saying.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BX1kvJVrjc

And here are some stupid people for those of you with a belief that no one would be so stupid.

http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2008/12/22/sig-oven-bad-idea/

There photos are of a Sig Sauer Pro that was left in an electric oven at 210c / 400f for 20 minutes by a French police officer. After cleaning it he put it in to dry but was distracted by a phone call.


http://www.gunpolicy.org/Articles/2004/290304.html

Texas Woman Shot When Gun Left in Oven
Reuters
29 Mar 2004

SAN ANTONIO -- A Texas woman heating fish sticks was shot in the leg by a gun that had been stashed in her oven, police said. Roxanne Perez, 29, was taken to a local hospital where she was in good condition, police said Friday. They said a friend of hers had hidden the .357 caliber handgun in the stove two weeks earlier without telling her after she told him no guns were allowed in her house. When Perez heated up the fish sticks she also heated up the gun, which caused several rounds to be fired. One hit her in the leg. No charges have been filed because the shooting was accidental, police said. ( gunpolicy.org )

About once a year I say.

Vern Humphrey
July 14, 2009, 10:52 AM
Does anyone actually have access to that "test" about the revolver's discharge velocity?
You can find mention of shooting a revover without the barrel (and pictures) in a fairly recent issue of Handloader or Rifle.

hso
July 14, 2009, 11:36 AM
Here's the Mythbusters episode on ammo in a camp fire. Their conclusion is that injury from flying casings could occur, but no lethal injury is expected.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfoJAwlUopI&feature=related

As previously noted, the bullet is heavier than the casing so the casing has the highest velocity when a round of ammunition cooks off.

JR47
July 14, 2009, 11:54 AM
Vern, shooting a barrel-removed revolver will still add the length of the frame to the ability to gain velocity. The old Mormon Avenger was such a gun.

What I was referring to was the velocity of those adjoining bore holes that was mentioned above. They have zero constriction, unless you count hitting the edges of the frame in some revolver/caliber combinations.

I think that the general science involved would prove that the ONLY round that could achieve a meaningful velocity was the one firing through the barrel.

Vern Humphrey
July 14, 2009, 12:01 PM
Vern, shooting a barrel-removed revolver will still add the length of the frame to the ability to gain velocity. The old Mormon Avenger was such a gun.
No, on both counts.

Removing the barrel (on modern revolves) requires unscrewing it. The resulting hole is far too large obturate and give any added velocity.

The Morman guns were short-barreled, not no-barreled. Most that I have seen or read about were cut-down Colts Take a look at a Colt percussion revolver and you see you cannot remove the barrel entirely -- it is integral with the fore part of the frame.

redactor
July 14, 2009, 12:01 PM
Geez. Am I the only man in America with a copy of Julian Hatcher's Notebook? ;)

Seriously. Go buy a copy today, and read it tomorrow.

rcmodel
July 14, 2009, 05:09 PM
I think that the general science involved would prove that the ONLY round that could achieve a meaningful velocity was the one firing through the barrel. Most normal revolver ammo (.38 Spl or such) burns all the powder in the cylinder of the gun. What pressure escapes through the barrel cylinder gap is only high pressure gas.

BTW: It was known for old-time gamblers and others to take the barrel & ejector rod housing off of a Colt Lightening or SAA to make a belly or hide-out gun.

Generally the base of a lead bullet will be flaired out slightly from the blast out of the cylinder.

By all accounts, they would kill you just as dead as one with a barrel on it.

rc

fireman 9731
July 14, 2009, 05:58 PM
Divemedic and Flying Gauge hit the nail on the head...

I have been in fires that ammo has cooked off in, I have been in fires where aerosol cans, propane tanks, and CO2 cartridges have cooked off in. I was in one fire that had hundreds of bottles of wine with the corks flying off.

When you fight fire, A LOT of things go boom. That doesn't stop us from doing our jobs though.

As others have said, the fire was already vented. Very few firefighters in their right mind would make an offensive, interior attack in a fire like that. There is no need to.

thorazine
July 14, 2009, 06:44 PM
Fine. I invite everyone to stand in front of a box of 357's that gets thrown in a campfire. No takers?

Sure.

Pay for my airfare to KY and back.
Rental car.
Lodging and meals for one day.


No protective equipment needed...

Tee shirt and shorts is fine with me.

-and-

Safety glasses.

divemedic
July 14, 2009, 07:00 PM
Not to go too far off topic, but:

Not trying to contradict divemedic by any means, but a freeburning fire is oftentimes the easiest fire to fight as the smoke conditions are less and you can visualize the seat of the fire. The smoke is what kills and makes our jobs exponentially more difficult. I would rather go in a house where the fire has vented through a window, (vented through a roof makes it a tougher decision) than one where the house is "charged" with smoke and heat.

A fire which has been ventilated by a fire crew is a different animal than one which has self ventilated. A building vented by a crew has been vented in a controlled fashion, and that ventilation has been (hopefully) coordinated with the attack. Failure to ventilate properly can be very dangerous.

The wood frame trusses that are used in the majority of homes are normally very sturdy, but when exposed to fire conditions, are a recipe for firefighter injury. Truss members exposed to direct flame impingement fail in as little as five minutes. In order to self ventilate, the load bearing members would have to have been exposed to flame for a few minutes, at least. This is a dangerous situation. As Brannigan said: "Know thine enemy. The building is the enemy."

A good read on the hazards is "Building Construction for the Fire Service" by Brannigan, and "Fireground Strategies" by Avillo.

A fire that is self vented is at high risk of a collapse with little or no further warning. IMO, this is a much larger factor in the decision to go defensive, but that doesn't sell TV time like the threat of an explosion.

flying_gage
July 15, 2009, 05:08 PM
Divemedic I wholeheartedly agree with your views. As I stated, my dept is not at this point as of yet. Probably has more to do with geography than anything. In our response area, the houses range anywhere from 100-150 years old. It is not uncommon to see dimensional lumber and cut nails. That dimensional lumber is usually old growth pine or some other soft wood.

As an aside, I tried framing out a window with old growth pine, and it laughed at my paslode framing nailer; leaving me to use good old arm strength. That sucked.

Whether a fire has "self vented" versus ventilation as performed in a coordinated attack is somewhat immaterial. There are too many factors at play to make that blanket statement. Fire venting out a window from a room and contents fire is still within the realm of an offensive attack. Now if it is venting from multiple windows in multiple rooms, in a modern home with stamped plate construction, that is a different story.

I am sure we are thinking along the same lines here. Hopefully I have clarified it a tad.

It is amazing what building materials can withstand when properly used. It is also can be very sad what can happen when cost is factored too greatly, (stamped plate truss).

I do think that this is a purely academic discussion in regards to bullets exploding. I would liken it to practicing for a shootout vs. being in one. I am a pretty calm guy and actually enjoy fighting a good fire, but bullets popping off would make my exit from the building a foregone conclusion. All it would take is for one piece of shrapnel to cut my high pressure line or low pressure line on my SCBA to potentially make me a statistic.

JR47
July 16, 2009, 08:13 AM
The Morman guns were short-barreled, not no-barreled. Most that I have seen or read about were cut-down Colts Take a look at a Colt percussion revolver and you see you cannot remove the barrel entirely -- it is integral with the fore part of the frame.

I have seen, and read of, the originals. They werecut off at the frame, with zero stub beyond that.

While powder might burn 100% in theory while in the casing, that's not the reality. If it were, there would be no flash at the gap, or out of the barrel, or "unburned" particles on your clothing and hands. However, burning powder and velocity are two separate animals. If it weren't there would be no velocity difference between barrel lengths.

Vern Humphrey
July 16, 2009, 09:31 AM
I have seen, and read of, the originals. They werecut off at the frame, with zero stub beyond that.
Not the ones I've seen -- and I've seen a couple of Browning originals. They all had short barrels, but they have short barrels.

Remember, Colt percussion revolvers don't have a frame, per se. There is no top strap, and the front of what would be the frame is a lug forged integral with the barrel. You can shorten the barrel, but you can't remove all of it, or the cylinder will fall out of the gun.

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