Shotgun Forum banner
1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,163 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had the experience of a shotgun shell "cooking off" in my home last night, as a result of being too close to an electric heater. I am posting the information and pictures as a warning, in hopes that others won't make the mistake I did.

I have a large room on the back of my house, formed by enclosing a porch. Since it is an addition, it has its own heating system in the form of electric baseboard radiators (installed, not portable). At one end of the room is a lot of stored "junque", in the middle is a small workshop/reloading area, and at the other end is my computer desk.

I was at the computer last night when I heard a sound like a snap or a clap. I turned around and looked but didn't see anything, so I assumed something had fallen from a storage shelf, and I would find it on the floor later.

A few minutes later I smelled smoke and turned around to see a haze of smoke in the other end of the room. As I searched for the source of the smoke, I heard another sound like a loud handclap. I knew at once that a shell must have cooked off. I quickly found some safety glasses and started moving boxes in the area where the sound and smoke had come from.

What I found was that a box of reloaded .410 shotgun shells had fallen against or on top of the baseboard radiator. Several of the shells had melted spots on them, but I only found one that looked like it had detonated. I now believe that the first noise was the powder going off, which kicked the primer out of the hull, and the second sound was the primer going off. I also found that the box was charred, and the edges of the cardboard were still smoldering.



The picture above shows the charred box, the detonated shell on the left, and 2 other damaged (melted) shells. Note that the central part of the primer (looks like a rifle primer) in the left shell has been driven out, but the crimp was still intact, the shot was still in the hull, and the hull was not damaged except for a slight swelling just above the top of the brass.



This picture shows the detonated hull cut open. The powder clearly had ignited, but the ash was not what I would expect to see - it was fused into black clumps. The object on the left is the base of the wad (I cut it in two getting it out). The white wad had turned black on the bottom, and brown farther up.

I cut open the hull at the right side in the first picture, and the powder and primer in it appeared normal - it did not detonate.

The shells had probably been reloaded at least 5 years ago. They all had bad crimps, and I apparently had put them aside, planning to dispose of them by shooting all of them in one session. I obviously forgot them, and somehow the box got on top of some other boxes piled under a small table in front of the radiator. When I put anything near the radiator, I make sure there are several inches of clearance. The box must have fallen onto the radiator recently, because I know the radiator has been used through several winters since the last time I loaded a .410 shell.

What I have learned from this:
1. Obviously, I have not been as careful as I should about keeping things off the radiators.
2. This confirms what I have been reading for years - a shell that cooks off (detonates from excessive heat) does not explode like a shell that is confined in a gun barrel. The sounds were not very loud, and very little damage was done to the hull or its surroundings.
3. I suspect the charring of the box was due to the detonation rather than the heat from the radiator, but I can't be certain about that. I have read warnings about fire risks with portable heaters, but I don't think the baseboard radiators get that hot. Nevertheless, from now on I will treat the radiators as carefully as I would a portable heater.
4. I am now much more concerned about fire than about explosions! I don't have a smoke alarm in that part of the house, and the only fire extinguisher nearby might be too old to be effective. Both of those things will be taken care of very soon!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,643 Posts
I am glad the these lessons came so cheaply and that you and your family and home are safe. Thanks for telling us about your experience, that we may also learn from it.

Cheers
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,780 Posts
THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THE WARNING!!!!

Thankfully nobody was hurt.

This is an important lesson.

We have hot water baseboard but I have just moved some shells away from it. (Having some remodeling done which is why they're out)

Thank you again

Frank
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
83 Posts
Best place to keep your ammo... in the second gun safe compartment located in a cold and dry basement. Hopefully nothing of mine will combust or explode in the safe.

Good thing you weren't lifting the box when it went off or something.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,285 Posts
Once when I was a kid, some idiot found a few pistol cartridges and threw them into a campfire. They went off with a pop, but it was not nearly as loud as firecrackers. The next day I found a couple of shell casings on the ground several yards from where the fire was. Evidently the shell, being lighter than the bullet, gets propelled farther. Without the compression of a proper barrel, smokeless ammo is not especially dangerous in a fire. A loaded gun in a fire is another story.

OS
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
30,315 Posts
My heart goes out to you for the trauma you surely must have endured, and will continue to endure, all because of the negligence of the giant Olin corporation, and the importer of the electric heater. Obviously those companies were more interested in corporate profits than printing warning labels on the heater and the box of ammuntion to not expose to heaters, or else the ammunition would explode.

If a child were present, I shudder to think what could have happened.

As it was, you were exposed to extreme emotional distress, and inhaled noxious fumes. The long term effects of this horrible tragedy can't yet be determined.

It's very important that you don't take responsibility for your own actions or even suggest that this was in any way your fault. Unscrupulous corporations will use this against you, when you exercise your right to receive compensation for your injuries.

In fact, perhaps a class action suit is order here. Millions of boxes of shells and who knows how many heaters are out there, virtual death traps, and the companies just don't care.
Think of the children, my friend, think of the children.

As an attorney, I'm just here to help, if I can in any way be of service to you and your family in this matter.

:wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink:
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,305 Posts
grimakis said:
Best place to keep your ammo... in the second gun safe compartment located in a cold and dry basement. Hopefully nothing of mine will combust or explode in the safe.

Good thing you weren't lifting the box when it went off or something.
Maybe for metallics or for a hunter who doesn't keep much ammo on hand. I'd need one hell of a big safe to keep my loaded ammo in there, and I know I keep a LOT less on hand than many other target shooters.

Seamus, thanks for posting. Good info and thankfully, a good result from what could have been a bad situation.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
5,305 Posts
SuperXOne said:
My heart goes out to you for the trauma you surely must have endured, and will continue to endure, all because of the negligence of the giant Olin corporation, and the importer of the electric heater. Obviously those companies were more interested in corporate profits than printing warning labels on the heater and the box of ammuntion to not expose to heaters, or else the ammunition would explode.

If a child were present, I shudder to think what could have happened.

As it was, you were exposed to extreme emotional distress, and inhaled noxious fumes. The long term effects of this horrible tragedy can't yet be determined.

It's very important that you don't take responsibility for your own actions or even suggest that this was in any way your fault. Unscrupulous corporations will use this against you, when you exercise your right to receive compensation for your injuries.

In fact, perhaps a class action suit is order here. Millions of boxes of shells and who knows how many heaters are out there, virtual death traps, and the companies just don't care.
Think of the children, my friend, think of the children.

As an attorney, I'm just here to help, if I can in any way be of service to you and your family in this matter.

:wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink: :wink:
Sad thing is, there are folks out there who actually think this way. I just had the supreme pleasure of watching a lawyer friend win a med mal jury trial (for the defense) and watching the plaintiff, who was so full of it and himself that it made me gag, try to pick his jaw up off the floor when the jury came back!

CARRY ON!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,163 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
SuperXOne said:
It's very important that you don't take responsibility for your own actions or even suggest that this was in any way your fault.
Ummm.... I think it's too late for me to take that position.....

As an attorney, I'm just here to help, if I can in any way be of service to you and your family in this matter.
You old ambulance chaser, you!!!!!

:wink: :lol: :wink: :lol: :wink: :lol:
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
30,315 Posts
Once upon a time, a lawyer from a large city had a personal injury case in our little town, and he hired me to help him pick a jury and sit beside him during the trial. This is often refered to as "adding local color".

I was very pleased to see, that in voir dire, that about two thirds of the entire jury panel of about forty people had used me as an attorney. None said they were dissatisfied, at least not they admitted.

The problem was that the case was about a little boy who had borrowed a push lawn mower from some neighbors, and then proceeded to cut off half his foot mowing in a ditch. The owners of the mower had removed that little drag behind safety guard they put on new push mowers.

I had warned the lawyer from the city that our little town was wildly conservative, and that I didn't believe he had a chance.

We knew it was going to be bad when the defense attorney asked the entire jury panel how many of them owned a push lawn mower, and all but one of them raised their hands. Then he asked how many had removed that drag behind guard, and all but two of them had taken the damn thing off.

Then, the judge asked the entire panel, if any of them had any personal problems with this particular case that would prevent them from being fair and impartial. A man I knew pretty well stood up and said "I've got a problem, a big problem, if anybody thinks I'm going to award any money to anybody because they removed a guard on a push mower and then lent it to a kid that cut part of his foot off with it. It's nobody's fault except the kid's, and he should have been more careful. Maybe his parents should have been watching him closer, too."

This diatribe of good common sense was most unwelcome in our camp, and we could see our case spiraling downward. I noticed several other jurors nodding their heads in agreement.

We finally picked a jury, and the lawyer tried his case. I could see us going down for certain defeat, but about halfway through the defense settled the case for an confidential sum. In Missouri, nine out of twelve jurors is all you need. Maybe he was afraid of a jury verdict, but I've often thought it was just because he felt sorry for the kid. Who can say?

They put the guards on the mowers for a reason. They help block stones and wire coming out the back, and I suppose it's more difficult to get your foot under the mower with a guard in place. My push mower has a plastic guard, and I've left it on. But, if you use a push mower without a guard, and something bad happens, whose fault is that? It certainly isn't the manufacturer's fault, and anybody old enough to use the mower should know the thing is deadly dangerous.
 
1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top