My house almost burnt down today do to cedar wood dust.. watch out..!!

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Forum topic by Bsigns posted 10-08-2013 02:29 PM 7579 views 0 times favorited 68 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 2518 days

10-08-2013 02:29 PM

We got woke up to people banging on our front door in the early AM today good thing i did not shoot them.
Open the door with them yelling your porch is on fire.

They were out having a morning walk and noted that our front porch was on fire. Me and my wife grabed pots and pans and filled them with water and started putting it out as i also called for the fire dept.

We got most of it out before they got here but it was still smoldering.
I had no clue how a fire could of got started we have no wires or anything by the porch in that area.

After looking the fire dep says it was Spontaneous combustion that cedar dust i had been putting down all around edge of the house just started and bust into flames on its own.

I make cedar signs and i have been dumping all the cedar dust from my sander and cnc routers all around the edge of our home thinking this was a good way to keep bugs out and it looks good.

It turns out that cedar and many others wood products in that fine of a size can heat up inside from moisture and get molded and this created a reaction that gets so hot it can start a fire.

I still am having a hard time thinking that is what happened but that is what they say it was Spontaneous combustion of the thick cedar dist i have around the front of the porch it was around a foot thick in that area.

It was damp out and i was thinking no way with this much dampness can this happen but the dampness is what makes the bacteria or mold react even more and heat up deep inside the cedar dust pile and bacteria and self-ignite because of heat produced by bacterial fermentation.

Just wanted to post this.. Do not put your cedar dust or chips around your home or if you do make sure that it is not in a thick pile no more then 3 inchs thick to help stop it from bacterial fermentation deep inside the pile.

I now have a burned up porch i need to fix but we make it out alive..
I will be taking all the cedar dust around the house away now for sure.

Just be careful i would of never expected this to happen.

-- Ed Branson MO

68 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117616 posts in 3939 days

#1 posted 10-08-2013 02:42 PM

This is unbelievable,who would have ever guessed that cedar wood chips could cause spontaneous combustion .
Thanks for sharing this information.

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3506 days

#2 posted 10-08-2013 02:48 PM

a1Jim, I think it’s important to clarify he was using cedar dust, not chips. Otherwise, I agree whole heartedly with your comment. I hope a lot of people read this!

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View Bsigns's profile


10 posts in 2518 days

#3 posted 10-08-2013 02:59 PM

A few photos from my cell phone.

-- Ed Branson MO

View Bsigns's profile


10 posts in 2518 days

#4 posted 10-08-2013 03:05 PM

One more showing more of the bed area.

They say it started down low in the cedar and burned up and then under the deck. Around a foot away from the side of the house.
The fire dep cut away the porch with a saw to make sure it was all out.

-- Ed Branson MO

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3229 days

#5 posted 10-08-2013 03:06 PM

Wow! Thanks for the tip. I sure am glad that it wasn’t any worse for you and am certainly thankful that no one was hurt or worse, and that you didn’t loose your house.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Hopdevil's profile


223 posts in 3448 days

#6 posted 10-08-2013 03:11 PM

Wow, glad you and your family are ok!

It makes me wonder however… I put a thick layer of sawdust (all kinds of wood mixed up) on my compost container periodically to keep the bugs down and provide additional composting materials. The container is right up against the house.
Should I be worried? or is this an issue with only wood in the cedar family?
Thoughts anyone?

-- Buzz ---- Of all the things I have ever lost, I miss my mind the most.

View Bsigns's profile


10 posts in 2518 days

#7 posted 10-08-2013 03:12 PM

Yaa me to it was scarey for sure. I need to go and rake all that out and get rid of it now. I have it all around the house I was just going to dump 2 more bags out sometime this week i have 2 dust collectors to empty.

-- Ed Branson MO

View woodcox's profile


2286 posts in 2374 days

#8 posted 10-08-2013 03:19 PM

Crazy! Glad you guys are ok. I used to do tires for Waste Management garbage trucks, in their yard they would always have a few of their plastic cans that were burnt or melted down from people leaving compost or grass clippings inside. Amazing the heat that can be produced from the process.

-- "My god has more wood than your god" ... G. Carlin.

View woodsmithshop's profile


1381 posts in 3908 days

#9 posted 10-08-2013 03:20 PM

now I am wondering about other woods also. my dust collector has quite a bit of dust in it, can it start a fire that way too?
kinda scary.

-- Smitty!!!

View danoconnor11's profile


12 posts in 2339 days

#10 posted 10-08-2013 03:29 PM

I’ve seen cedar mulch do this when I was with the fire department.

View patron's profile


13648 posts in 3703 days

#11 posted 10-08-2013 03:41 PM

who would have guessed

glad you got it out
and are all safe

thanks for the heads up

i just blow my vacuum outside
will have to rake it thinner periodically now
cause it goes get wet when it rains

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2435 days

#12 posted 10-08-2013 03:54 PM

good to know.. first I have heard of this. Another reason to keep that shop clean of dust piles!!

-- Who is John Galt?

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3333 days

#13 posted 10-08-2013 06:13 PM

I would guess the same thing might be possible with any combustible dust.
Along the same principle of bailed hay catching fire if it is not dry enough, or gets rained on, before you put it in the barn.

View ajosephg's profile


1880 posts in 3923 days

#14 posted 10-08-2013 06:17 PM

I’ve also heard of lawn mowers catching fire due to grass clippings beneath the mower. Cleanliness is next to Godliness!

-- Joe

View DS's profile


3145 posts in 2783 days

#15 posted 10-08-2013 07:13 PM

Out by the river bottom they have these huge composting heaps for making mulch. They have to manage them very carefully because as the organics break down they create lots of heat.

A couple months ago they had a huge fire out there that burned for almost a week because the heaps spontaneously combusted. (We’re talking 100 acres or more burning)

What a mess. Glad you’re okay and that the neighbors were looking out for you.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

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