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Old 09-07-17, 07:54 PM   #1
andymoore
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Default Spontaneous Combustion

I'll start this with a true story:

Me and my buddy were fishing the Chattooga DH last year at the first big hole after the first river cross. On the bank there was about half of a dead tree still standing, with about a 2" hole sticking out of the side. I was down in the river fishing, and my buddy was rigging on the bank. All of a sudden, I hear my buddy yelling frantically at me to come look at something. I walked up the bank, I saw what my buddy was yelling about. The small hole in the dead tree was spewing smoke, and eventually spawned a flame coming from inside the hole.

We spent the next couple minutes trying to figure out if we had done something to start the fire, and eventually decided to go ahead and put it out with a bottle of water. We were absolutely dumbfounded, and still wonder if we should have put it out.

My buddy said that before he noticed the burning in the tree, he had heard an ember shoot by his ear, coming from the tree.

My best guess is spontaneous combustion, since the hole in the tree seemed to be packed with old, dried debris. Should I feel guilty for stopping mother nature's course, or should I feel good for squashing a possible fire on the Chattooga?

Have any of you ever heard of this type of thing happening before? I would love to have some input from a forestry expert.
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Old 09-07-17, 08:19 PM   #2
Trout8myfly
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Default Spontaneous Combustion

It's possible that an abandoned campfire ignited a root which smoldered to the tree, like a fuse. We were warned of this possibility in the Boy Scouts. Any campsites nearby?

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Old 09-07-17, 08:24 PM   #3
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No, there aren't any campsites near this hole. It's further downstream on the GA side.
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Old 09-08-17, 06:39 AM   #4
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Wasn't last November when the wildfires were in the area? Maybe a ember blew over. I seem to remember fishing the DH in early/mid November and having the chopper fly overhead coming from one of the lakes on the SC side all day long on the lower end of the DH.
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Old 09-08-17, 06:53 AM   #5
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I have trouble buying this spontaneous combustion theory. It is possible, yes. It it the probably cause, I doubt it. More likely some a-hole tossed a cigarette butt in there.
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Old 09-08-17, 08:14 AM   #6
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Default Spontaneous Combustion

Given the right blend of multiple variables spontaneous combustion is possible. Classic example is a stack of old oily rags. But I think putting this fire out was the right thing to do. Be interesting to check back on it in a week or so as the conditions which could have created spontaneous combustion would not have changed.
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Old 09-08-17, 08:31 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buck Henry View Post
I have trouble buying this spontaneous combustion theory. It is possible, yes. It it the probably cause, I doubt it. More likely some a-hole tossed a cigarette butt in there.
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Old 09-08-17, 12:29 PM   #8
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If it was a recently felled tree, what about lightning? That sets dead trees on fire all the time.
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Old 09-08-17, 02:41 PM   #9
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It was during the bad drought and also during the time we were having bad wildfires. I don't think it was from lightning. The tree had no obvious signs of previous black charring, and there had not been any rain in some time. I don't think it would have been an ember travelling from another fire either. We thought it might have been a cigarette butt or something like that but we didn't see anything like that when we looked in the hole. We had been fishing there for a little while before it started burning.
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Old 09-08-17, 02:59 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andymoore View Post
Should I feel guilty for stopping mother nature's course, or should I feel good for squashing a possible fire on the Chattooga?
Feel good. A fire in that area during a dry spell could have been really bad.
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