What are the main risks of taking cover from a bush fire in your vehicle?

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FancyDarcy
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What are the main risks of taking cover from a bush fire in your vehicle?

Post by FancyDarcy » 2017-10-17 02:18am

What are the risks and benefits of taking cover inside a vehicle versus no cover?

If I was stuck in the line of fire (hah) from a wildfire and unable to escape, assuming I had the following items on-hand: a gun with bullets, 10 liters of clean stored water, a fire blanket, a human-safe fire extinguisher, a flashlight, medium sized sedan with 15L fuel and radio, what would be the best plan for survival?

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Re: What are the main risks of taking cover from a bush fire in your vehicle?

Post by TheFeniX » 2017-10-17 04:18am

Probably shoot yourself. I would assume the benefit to being in a car is that you would asphyxiate before you caught fire.

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Re: What are the main risks of taking cover from a bush fire in your vehicle?

Post by LaCroix » 2017-10-17 05:31am

Yeah, the smoke is going to get you, really quick. And since you are in danger of the fire, it means it moves towards you, and the wind blows the smoke your way, too. You got a couple of minutes, the most.

Find the spot where the wall of fire is the narrowest (and the path clearest and most driveable - no obvious huge trees/rocks/ravines you can't fit through/drive over), douse yourself in water, wrap the blanket around you and slam the gas. Use the car and drive through the fire front as fast as you can and still control it. If you manage to get through, you will be save from the smoke and the fire.

If you can't do that - I'd recommend the gun, as well.
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Re: What are the main risks of taking cover from a bush fire in your vehicle?

Post by Korto » 2017-10-17 07:20am

You are better off inside the car than outside. Marginally. It increases your chances of survival from 'sweet fuck all' to 'yeah, probably not'.
On the bright side, you've got a blanket, because that's damn useful to you right now. Assuming it's pure wool. Be pure wool. If it's synthetic, the gun will be preferable.

ANyway, here's a link for you for some good old Aussie Fuck fuck fuck I'm caught in a Bushfire advice.
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Re: What are the main risks of taking cover from a bush fire in your vehicle?

Post by Raw Shark » 2017-10-17 02:34pm

Yeah, I'm going to + the "Use water and blanket on yourself and put the hammer down," crowd. Might as well, right? If you catastrophically wipe out it'll at least be faster than suffocating.

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Re: What are the main risks of taking cover from a bush fire in your vehicle?

Post by LadyTevar » 2017-10-17 06:34pm

Something all of you are forgetting -- Smoke Rises. You have a better chance of surviving smoke inhalation if you are below the line of smoke. That's not possible when you're trying to drive a car.
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Re: What are the main risks of taking cover from a bush fire in your vehicle?

Post by Raw Shark » 2017-10-18 09:09am

Hold a seance and tell that to my sainted Italian grandma. She was 4'11" and kept trying to drive until they took her license away when she plowed into a city garbage truck. My Dad used to call her, "The Hovering Hands," because that's all you could see as she pulled into our driveway.

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Re: What are the main risks of taking cover from a bush fire in your vehicle?

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2017-10-21 11:29pm

Driving to safety may or may not work, that is very situational as to the nature of the road and the route to be taken and what is burning, a grass fire for example is far less risk then if trees are involved that might block the road. A car is not effective protection from a fire at all on its own, sheltering in the vehicle in a serious fire is probably worse then being in the open. Metal conducts heat, and the grass only creates a greenhouse effect, some automotive plastics will begin to melt at only 140F. On the other hand if you can drive quickly to a lake, that might be the way to go.

Barring a chance to drive to shelter the best thing to do if you can is light a backfire, let an area burn clear of fuel, pour the water on that ground and on yourself and then take cover under the fire blanket. But that does require some amount of warning time for the backfire, which a gun muzzle held to the ground may or may not ignite for you depending on the fire conditions, Which is really the jist of it in the first place, since if the wind is low even a huge wildfire can be escaped on foot. The Alumininzed fire blankets are pretty effective if you can shelter on an area with a low fuel load, but not magic.
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Re: What are the main risks of taking cover from a bush fire in your vehicle?

Post by Marko Dash » 2017-10-22 10:58am

if it's rear wheel drive, hold the brakes, use the back wheel to dig a trench, park vehicle straddling the trench, dowse self with the water and lay in the trench covered with the blanket.
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Re: What are the main risks of taking cover from a bush fire in your vehicle?

Post by Raj Ahten » 2017-10-24 06:22pm

The outcome here depends a lot on the fuel type and terrain this take place in. Being on a flat plain with three foot grass on a paved road is way different from being in mountainous terrain with mixed conifers on a two track dirt road. Also a wildfire can be everything from 6 inch flame lengths in dry leaves burning to holy shit that's a crown run with 300 foot flames.

Regardless best bet is to stay calm and go to areas with lighter or no fuels present and stay away from areas that can increase fire behavior such as steep slopes, saddles and box canyons. Going down slope or sidehill is far preferable to trying to outrun a fire uphill. The fire will win that race. In tests cars can provide some protection but in burn-overs the plastic inside releases toxic chemicals and eventually the car will burn up as well. Tires usually catch on fire first. If the flames are likely to pass quickly I'd probably stay in the car. Otherwise assuming you are stuck somewhere with extreme fire behavior I'd lay my ass down away from anything that can burn with that fire blanket over me and hope for the best if I can't get away. A backfire might be an option depending on fuels as well.

The good news is you probably won't be burned alive as we all most likely think about it. You can take some pretty good burns and still live through it. The bad news is superheated air destroying your lungs will kill you. One breathe is enough to sear your lungs. In one case a firefighter escaped certain death because he was screaming when the flame front hit so he didn't inhale the super heated gases.

Here's a couple videos that are relevant. The first is the standard video shown about using a fire shelter for wildland firefighters. At 8:00 minutes there is some discussion of more survivable locations pertinent to this talk.

This second video is far more interesting and part one of a two part series abut the deadly South Canyon fire that killed 14 firefighters in 1994. It's excellent and includes many interviews with participants and is a first rate production, especially for government made training product.

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