Started a Fire at the Range with AK


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Remander
July 3, 2004, 09:55 PM
After a full day of shooting various firearms, I decided to top it off by lobbing a few Wolf 7.62 X 39 at the 200 yd gongs. No one else had been near the gongs or shooting at them for about 45 minutes to an hour.

I hit the first one 5 or 6 times and moved over to the others for variety.

When reloading, I noticed some smoke (??!!) near the first gong. I looked through the binoculars and, yep, it was definitely smoke rising, and it was getting thicker.

I took a big cup from a garbage can and filled it with water and walked down to inspect.

There was some cardboard, moist even, given our torrential rains of late, on the ground in front of the gong. It had apparently fallen off the nearby target boards and landed there.

It was smoldering away and giving off bountiful smoke. I doused and stomped it out.

The only conceiveable source of of the fire (that I can figure) was from my firing at the gongs.

I bet you could shoot a million, billion or trillion rounds at that gong with dry paper (or even soaked in lighter fluid) under it and not start a fire if you wanted to, but for some crazy reason that damp carboard was smoking away.

Bizarrre!!

Anyone else had a similar experience??

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goon
July 3, 2004, 11:48 PM
A buddy's kid was shooting my AK one day and he hit a large peice of sandstone about 50 yards downrange on the ground. It showered the next 30 or so yards with an incredible spark display. I also read in past issues of American Rifleman about the dangers of starting brush fires with steel core ammunition, and I have set them myself with tracers from a 240B. On one occasion we had a whole MG range on fire. We couldn't see any of the targets, we just shot when we thought they were up. :D

rayra
July 4, 2004, 03:37 PM
Happens all the time here in the SW. Brushfires are such a problem that my local public range flat out says 'no steel-core ammo'. Flunk a magnet test on your surplus ammo, and you better hope you brought something else or you wasted your trip.

4v50 Gary
July 4, 2004, 04:01 PM
Steel core bullets striking stone is the old steel & flint combination used by flintlocks. That's why some ranges ban steel ammo. It's not that they're fearful of the bullet's path (yes, it is a concern), but more so that they're concerned about fires.

GEM
July 4, 2004, 04:08 PM
I was at the indoor range. They had target holders which were massive metal triangles that clipped on to the target very close to the head of a B-27. I was shooting with my nondominate hand and one handed. I was trying head shots and shot a tad high. The bullet (a FMJ) seems to have bounced down off the edge of the bottom of the wedge, cut the target in half and set the half remaining on fire.

The guy next to me wanted to buy a box of those rounds.

Nightspell
July 4, 2004, 11:49 PM
Heheheh ...

444
July 5, 2004, 12:13 AM
I was shooting with some people from work on an indoor range. One of the ladies was shooting a Beretta 92 (no steel core ammo here) when she started a fire on the floor appearently caused by her bullets striking the steel backstop. The fire started in a pile of stuff that had been swept up from the floor and then just left in a pile at the end of the range.

bamf
July 5, 2004, 01:18 AM
I was shooting next to this guy shooting old colt navy blackpowder revolver. He was using these preformed pellets of blackpowder and it wasn't burning all that well.

Each time he shot, I could see fragments of this blackpowder pellet flying through the air. Well he was shooting at 7 yrds, and those still burning blackpowder kept hitting the paper targets. Next thing I know I see his target was up in flames. He called a cease fire to stomp out his target, hehehe

rick_reno
July 5, 2004, 09:08 AM
I started some grass on fire years ago at a range in Kalif with my Ruger Old Army BP pistol. They hadn't cut the grass in front of the firing line and I think the patches got into and set it on fire. They had no water so it got going pretty good.

Greybeard
July 5, 2004, 10:50 AM
Quote: "The fire started in a pile of stuff that had been swept up from the floor and then just left in a pile at the end of the range."

Yep, that's one way to invite a flash fire. "Pile" often comprised of unburned powder from short barrels and paper target punchouts. Not a good thing to have around anywhere a spark might be generated. :what:

Jim K
July 5, 2004, 01:53 PM
It doesn't take steel core ammo to start a fire.

When any bullet hits a solid object (steel plate, stone, etc.) its kinetic energy is converted to heat. If the energy is sufficient, that heat will crater (melt) a steel plate. It is also heat that allows an AP bullet to work; the heat melts the steel and allows the AP core to penetrate.

The heat dissipates fast, but for an instant the metal is molten and is hot enough to start a fire. That is one reason for the safety rule against shooting at "a flat, hard surface". Most people think of a ricochet, but there is a fire danger also.

Steel plate shooting should be confined to handgun calibers, where the energy is not enough to melt the plate. This not only eliminates craters which can direct a bullet back at the firing line, but also reduces fire danger.

Jim

firearms_instructor
July 5, 2004, 04:04 PM
My training counselor told us that the old Hollywood, FL police range burned down because the range hadn't been swept in a long time, and someone threw a cigarette butt out on the range, igniting all the unburned powder out there. This is a real good reason not to smoke on the firing line.

"They hadn't cut the grass in front of the firing line and I think the patches got into and set it on fire. " - that means the unburned powder sitting down in that grass hadn't been dipersed in a while, either.

Matt G
July 5, 2004, 05:37 PM
Excellent point about the unburnt powder. If you shoot at a range where the same backstop is used for pistol and rifle, it's very likely that a fair concentration of unburnt pistol powder (which is, BTW, the fastest burning kind and thus a little more combustible) near the target backstop. Then, when shooting HP rifle, that KE turned to heat can do some interesting things. If there are paper shavings or dead grass there, you've got some tender. According to ol' Kurt Vonnegut, books begin to burn at 451 degrees. I'll bet spark or splash from a bullet with over 1000 flbs of energy that's been stopped in half an inch will be hotter'n that.

Preacherman
July 5, 2004, 07:34 PM
In this thread (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?threadid=21141), I posted a story from a member of the API list about an indoor range fire caused by Dragon's Breath rounds:
Many years ago, about 8 or 9, I use to shoot in an indoor range that was run by a few friends of mine. They were not the owner as you will soon see. On Monday they use to have the range open at night and the closed it around 9. After all the customers left the fun began. We ran various stages, did machine gun shoots, fast draw stuff, all the stuff that the owner would not like at all.

One night after the customers had left we brought out some "dragons breath", illegal in Florida BTW. None of us had ever seen it shot before so this was a good night to experiment. The range was in the back of the other two ranges so we set up a bowling pin to hit and see if it would burn.

What a fireball from the dragons breath but it didn't stop. The entire range went into a fireball with all the unburned powder. Four idiots, all of us, hit the door at the same time and I can assure you that 4 cannot get through a three foot door. Somehow we made it out and the manager went to call the fire department. As he was talking to them the fireball burnt out and he canceled the call.

It's funny today but not when it happened!

twency
July 6, 2004, 08:25 AM
According to ol' Kurt Vonnegut, books begin to burn at 451 degrees.

You mean Ray Bradbury?

Slimjim
July 7, 2004, 10:50 AM
At our range, we have to shoot through foam lined boxes to keep the noise down.

Guy with a M4gery was shooting through it, seems he was a bit close to the side, and set it on fire from the muzzle blast. RO grabbed the fire extinguisher and put it out.

GunGeek
July 7, 2004, 11:37 AM
When I worked at the indoor range fires down at the backstop were a common occrance. People would come running out of the range and tell us it was on fire. We would calmly tell them "don't worry, it will burn out" One guy thought I didn't understand what he was saying and kept repeating it over and over, each time I calmy replied "don't worry, it will burn out". Finally he grabs my arm and drags me into the range bay to see it. I have all the other shooters unload and step back from the line and I procede to walk down range to the back stop and look at the flames. I walk back to the guy who told me about the fire, and said "don't worry, it will burn out" in the same calm voice I used the first 4 times, called the range hot and walked out.

It was always funny to watch the new guys freak out the first time they saw it, had to tackle more then a few before they managed to yank the pin on the fire extingusher to spray it. One guy managed to hit it with the extenguisher, we closed the whole bay and made him clean it, lol.

Chipperman
July 7, 2004, 12:20 PM
"Started a Fire at the Range with AK"

I knew those rifles should be banned.

It's for the Wildlife. :neener:

G1FAL
July 7, 2004, 12:54 PM
Never started a fire with an AK, but I DID manage to start one with the Mosin 91/59 once.

Funny thing about shooting miscellaneous surplus ammo thats just thrown into an ammo can...sometimes you'll get an incindiary round or a tracer in there, and not know it until you shoot (tracer), or the bullet hits something (incindiary).

The range people prefer that I NOT use that ammo anymore. I dont go to that range anymore anyway. Every time I try to go, there is a stupid trap shoot going on.

Jeeper
July 7, 2004, 01:15 PM
I started a fire with my muzzlebreak on a contender one time. burnt one of my sandbags pretty good. Noticed a heat signature through the scope and looked up to see the bench on fire. It was pretty damn funny. The guy next to me was laughing his a$$ off.

WhiteKnight
July 7, 2004, 05:51 PM
The heat dissipates fast, but for an instant the metal is molten and is hot enough to start a fire. That is one reason for the safety rule against shooting at "a flat, hard surface". Most people think of a ricochet, but there is a fire danger also.

Interesting piece of info I didn't know. Thanks! :)

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