Author Topic: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace  (Read 6040 times)

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Offline threebuddies

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Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« on: January 03, 2014, 06:36:29 PM »
This is to let the guys on the EEVblog know that there was a fire in the High Voltage Lab at The Geek Group. There were no injuries and everyone is safe but the rest of the lab is covered in soot. Because of this The Geek Group is asking for volunteers to stop by and help with the clean up process. If you are available to help they need people for to go to 902 Leonard Street NW Grand Rapids MI tomorrow (Jan 3rd 2014) around noon. For those who want to see the damage done to the High Voltage lab http://imgur.com/a/VptiH To be more specific the sparkgap and capacitor bank for Gemini (The worlds most powerful Tesla coil) are completely destroyed and can be seen in the seventh picture. Also damaged is the impulse generator named Thumper that was right next to the fire and has an entire server rack full of high voltage capacitors.

As with the rest of the building, every part of the lab is covered in soot including the CNC machine shop, the electronics lab, the computer lab, the Audio/Video department, the high energy physics lab, the laser lab, and the robotics lab.

For those who cannot make it and want to help, The Geek Group is holding an emergency fundraiser to buy materials for the clean up such as paper towels and Windex. You can find the donation link in the topic of the IRC. http://thegeekgroup.org/live/

As mentioned before every part of the lab is covered by soot and also smells like burning plastic, whether you make it to the lab or give a dollar or two it will help greatly either way.

UPDATE: Chris uploaded photos of the aftermath to Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaptainBoden/media_set?set=a.10202619409023943.1073741827.1158854557&type=1
 
Sorry if this kind of post is not allowed(one asking for help), I am sure a mod will let me know if it not.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2014, 05:31:31 AM by threebuddies »
 

Offline amyk

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2014, 07:15:32 PM »
Any idea what caused it (and what fueled it)?
 

Offline Psi

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2014, 08:59:59 PM »
including the CNC machine shop

Not the new CNC machines :(
At least they have covers over the critical stuff inside
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Offline GeoffS

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2014, 09:03:34 PM »
Lots of soot in the electronics lab - not a good thing  :(
 

Offline rexxar

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2014, 04:17:50 AM »
Any idea what caused it (and what fueled it)?

Someone else reported that it was an overheated motor. I guess a project someone left running overnight?
 

Lurch

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2014, 04:29:57 AM »
I guess a project someone left running overnight?

That's exactly why our workshops all have a big off button by the exit that powers down all the benches!
 

Offline dacrawf

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2014, 05:24:18 AM »
The Geek Group is still working to understand the root cause. As I understand it, the fire started in the back room of the HVL (High Voltage Lab) where the synchronous spark gap and capacitor array for project Gemini (Tesla coil) were located. The equipment was not running when the fire started, but was recently used, and this area of the lab was not occupied by any people. Watch the Captain's Blog or join the IRC for more details.
 

Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2014, 05:58:51 AM »
Well, that didn't work out too well:

http://thegeekgroup.org/sponsors/bl-harroun-fire-protection/
Quote

BL Harroun Fire Protection
harroun
BL Harroun Fire Protection's URL
http://www.blharroun.com/
How BL Harroun Fire Protection Helped

Fire Safety

B.L. Harroun is a family-owned business with a history of over 65 years in the southwest and northern Michigan area, now in its third generation of ownership. BL Harroun

Founded by Ben and Dorothy Harroun in 1940, the company has grown to be a well known and respected corporation in the Fire Protection Industry. Their son, Bill, recently retired from the business after 48 years of continuing and growing the reputation that the Harroun name stands behind today. Today, the Harroun Company is led by grandchildren Carole (Harroun) Holmes and Todd Harroun.

Serving southwest and northern Michigan, the family business has chosen to remain based in Kalamazoo.

We would like to thank the folks at B.L. Harroun for their support with our fire suppression system. With their help, we have been able to make improvements in the studio space during the remodel that allows us to function without worry in the future.
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Offline Monkeh

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2014, 06:00:39 AM »
Any idea what caused it (and what fueled it)?

A rotary spark gap and a whole lot of acrylic. And some aluminium, by the look of it, because the MMC's frame appears to have mostly disappeared.
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2014, 06:14:22 AM »
Could be dielectric absorption in the capacitor bank that caused a build up of charge that eventually arced over and caused the acrylic to burn. High voltage capacitors are rather notorious for that.
 

Offline Monkeh

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2014, 06:15:46 AM »
Could be dielectric absorption in the capacitor bank that caused a build up of charge that eventually arced over and caused the acrylic to burn. High voltage capacitors are rather notorious for that.

I'm sure they had bleed resistors on that bank, but I could be wrong. They also had an open, tungstun electrode rotary spark gap next to it..
 

Offline SArepairman

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2014, 06:20:29 AM »
it could be arson that place is in the hood i believe
 

Offline Monkeh

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2014, 06:21:12 AM »
it could be arson that place is in the hood i believe

I strongly doubt it was arson.
 

Offline Psi

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2014, 10:51:19 AM »
Yeah, more likely someone 'was' in the lab when they shouldn't have been vs arson.
Or someone forgot to switch something to its safe mode when they left.
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Offline Monkeh

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2014, 10:54:04 AM »
Yeah, more likely someone 'was' in the lab when they shouldn't have been vs arson.
Or someone forgot to switch something to its safe mode when they left.

None of the above.
 

Offline Psi

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2014, 10:57:24 AM »
Yeah, i agree. I just meant that was more likely than arson
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Offline SparkyProjects

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2014, 10:01:37 AM »
Cause of  the fire was with the rotary spark gap, it seems to have thrown something hot onto the 1000 capacitor MMC array which was next to it, this video has the analysis of the RSG
from about 11:10
 

Offline amyk

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2014, 05:21:47 PM »
Wow, it's surprising to see that much damage caused from the fire, and how easily capacitors could ignite. ???
 

Offline Psi

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2014, 06:18:59 PM »
There's little that wont burn when hit by a piece of molten tungsten at 3422 °C
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Offline codeboy2k

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2014, 07:50:50 PM »
What I wonder is just why did that lab have no fire protection?  I wouldn't work in a lab without it. 

This room I am in right now has 2 sprinkler heads covering the whole room, they are above and slightly behind me, and thus cover the lab bench quite well.

Any fire here would be put out quickly, and this is my home. The problem with sprinkler heads is not false triggers, that never happens like in the movies, but the extensive water damage because they don't turn off once the fire is out. However, that's a small price to pay for saving your life and your lab from even worse fire damage.



 


Offline nanofrog

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #21 on: January 05, 2014, 08:01:42 PM »
What I wonder is just why did that lab have no fire protection?  I wouldn't work in a lab without it. 

This room I am in right now has 2 sprinkler heads covering the whole room, they are above and slightly behind me, and thus cover the lab bench quite well.

Any fire here would be put out quickly, and this is my home. The problem with sprinkler heads is not false triggers, that never happens like in the movies, but the extensive water damage because they don't turn off once the fire is out. However, that's a small price to pay for saving your life and your lab from even worse fire damage.
Apartment by chance?

Don't have such a system in my house, so I keep a fire extinguisher next to the bench, just in case.
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Offline pickle9000

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #22 on: January 05, 2014, 08:07:50 PM »
I don't suppose standard smoke detectors would do any good. They would probably go off every time they put on a show. I wonder how you would deal with the problem? They at least had it isolated in another room, I guess that is a valid method for any electrical fire. Just make sure that it's far enough away not to ruin the place. Technically I guess this was not an electrical fire but more like a capacitor storage area packed in plastic boxes catching.
 


Offline amyk

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Re: Fire at The Geek Group makerspace
« Reply #24 on: January 05, 2014, 11:31:46 PM »
There's little that wont burn when hit by a piece of molten tungsten at 3422 °C
Anything flammable, that is... but after watching the video, something about the cause still doesn't seem quite right to me; according to them the capacitor bank was encased in an aluminium server rack, and aluminium doesn't burn - it melts. The spark gap would've been running when it threw the electrode and unless it was run unattended, wouldn't someone at least have noticed that, if not the loss of functionality? ???
 


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