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Camera Truck Fire - Lithium Batteries


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#1 Ramon Engle

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 01:38 AM

I was in Chicago about a month ago. There were stories of a 40 footer on a feature, loaded with several camera packages and a steadicam package, that caught fire. It happened over the weeked while the truck was in the transpo lot. Rumor has it that the steadicam ops battery charger set the truck ablaze. Does anyone know anything about this?
If so what kind of charger was he/she using? Could a bad battery cause such a thing? Recently I pulled a battery off my AB Titan charger because I felt it was dangerously hot.

Ramon Engle
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#2 sebastian matthias

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 01:18 PM

hey ramon !
i don´t know if you are talking about the same story but i have seen pictures !!!!
a friend of mine has a company for lets call it film-stuff and he was booked with his cherry picker for a ridley scot movie.it is (WAS!) a very nice truck with a crane on it as well as camera platforms for camera and steadicam.he showed me films of the shoot on his mini-dv:a big fight scene with loads of horses, cameracrane with remote head,camera on tripod in the rear and steadicam operator on the front plattform,driving through the desert.
when i asked him what happened to his cherrypickerhe told me that he was just building a new one, because the whole thing burned down on that shoot together with half of the set !!!
too bad.i really loved that car.
(at least he definitely has a story to tell to his grandchildren now !)
i have no idea if the steadicam operator was the one who caused that fire ´but a cameratruck
burned down, for sure !

cheers

sebastian
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#3 Ari Gertler

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 03:32 PM

I believe I just saw the Rig in question. About 75% of the rig was charred. The only non melted/still intact piece was the Battery module. This has lead me to believe that the Rig and or battery configuration has nothing to do with the fire.

Ari Gertler
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#4 Ramon Engle

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 03:54 PM

Arri, I think the batteries were on charge. So the charging station may have been no where near the sled. I don't know for sure. Just a supposition. Was the rig in question in Chicago?

R
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#5 PaulSommers

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Posted 24 July 2005 - 04:17 PM

The rumor that I heard was that the cause of the fire was the block batteries, not steadi related. Lithium Ion batts have to be charged with a ton of ventilation because during the charging process they outgas, and this gas is explosive in high enough concentrations. The batteries in question were being charged in a locker in the camera truck and there must have been an ignition source.

Paul
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#6 Larry McConkey

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Posted 21 August 2005 - 10:53 AM

I am on the phone with my brother, Jim, who's rig was burned up in that fire. The fire had nothing to do with any of his Steadicam equipment, his Anton Bauer Dionics were not the cause of the fire, neither were his chargers. It is believed that the purse style batteries for the A camera were charging over the weekend unattended and may have been responsible for the fire but the investigation has not been completed. The guard noticed smoke coming from the truck about 1/2 hour after the truck had been plugged in for the weekend. More details to follow, but there should be no alarm in the Steadicam community about sled batteries or chargers causing this fire.

Larry
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#7 Ramon Engle

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Posted 21 August 2005 - 09:32 PM

Thanks Larry. Keep us posted.

Ramon
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#8 Matt Burton

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Posted 23 August 2005 - 10:51 AM

The only dangerous batteries i know are lithium polymer cells used for r/c heli flying. Their very light and powerfull and if you run them flat then charge them they explode !

-matt
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#9 WillArnot

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 03:43 PM

I too got the first hand report from Jim McConkey. Like Larry said it seems the purse style A camera batteries seem to be the culprit. If these batteries were custom made by the camera house then this might explain things. Who knows if the workmanship was up to snuff. They were Li-ion cells and did indeed explode while charging.

Some of the exploding cells it is thought landed on the egg-crate foam rubber that was on the shelf. On this rubber Jimmy's Pro II sled was lying upon. The foam rubber it is thought became an accelerant and quickly ingnited from the hot molten battery cells. Thus one charred PRO sled.

As Larry said, I think not to panic about charging Li-Ion cells if they are manufactured by a reputable company such as Anton Bauer or PAG. Perhaps wise to consider Paul Sommers' comment about ventilation while charging Li-ions in general.

Will
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