Tent Fire – it can happen

Akto fireWhilst browsing through some old photo’s I came across this one from 2008.

As you can see, it’s an Akto that’s been fire damaged. This picture is actually at a wildcamp spot in the Black Mountains in South Wales where the fire happened. Basically a group of us went for a wildcamp weekend in June 2008 with gorgeous sunshine and great conditions (probably the best I have had). On the Saturday evening, one of our group, having finished cooking and eating tea, went to wash in the stream 300 yards away. I was siting in my tent 50 feet away and noticed what I thought was steam coming from that tent. Not quite sure, I went to investigate and found that the inner tent of the Akto was on fire and managed to put it out with lots of stamping. The end product was a fire damaged inner and a self inflating mat that looked as if it had had a shark take a bite out of it! Luckily the outer wasnt touched and my companion was able to use the tent later that evening to sleep in. The cause was a gas burner not quite turned completely off after cooking and stored in the porch.

The really bizarre thing about all of this was that the outer didnt get damaged at all and that the inner only burnt in a very localised spot and didnt completely go up in flames. When I found it, the flame was very small and melting the fabric rather than burning it if that makes sense. I was amazed the damage wasnt greater or that the fire wasnt more fierce or quicker to take hold.

The really really bizarre thing about all of this was that the tent isnt even supposed to be fire retardant!

All in all a lucky escape for my companion and a reminder to be careful, especially when cooking near (or in!) your tent.

About Saddlebags and Backpacks - a brewer's outdoor adventures

I am a keen hiker, camper, cyclist and general all round gear addict..... I also manage to be a professional brewer in my non-spare time :->
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10 Responses to Tent Fire – it can happen

  1. Yasmine says:

    Wow! I always wanted to know what the inside of a thermarest looked like 😉

    • backpackbrewer says:

      most of it ended up on the soles of my walking shoes when i was stamping the fire out, as it was hot and runny!

  2. In some ways this is heartening. At least the whole tent didn’t just flare up in seconds, which is what I assumed would happen.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      So would I normally.

      I wouldnt like to assume that all tents are equal mind you! I know that Hilleberg tents arent claimed to be fire retardant but I reckon there must be something in the materials they use. I wouldnt like to think that a £50 tent would behave the same way…!

  3. -maria- says:

    How lucky you spotted the fire before more damage was done – and I believe Hilleberg sells spare inners?

    I am too much of a coward to use any stove inside a tent – so there I am, in rain and wind, cooking my meals while others are lounging in their tents using happily their stoves. Every now and then I think maybe I should, too… But then again, maybe not. I understand this accident didn’t happen while cooking, only after it, and I understand accidents (any kind) do happen even if you don’t cook in the porch, but somehow I have this horror scenario of being somewhere two day walks from the nearest village with a burnt tent and a burnt sleeping bag…

    • backpackbrewer says:

      Its a good point Maria.

      I normally cook in front of the tent, using the tent as a semi-windshield but not actually in the porch. With an alcohol stove, cooking in the wind with a small windshield isnt normally a problem. The problem comes with rain…
      I must admit, if its raining I tend to cook in the porch. This however relies on a couple of things:

      1. that you have a porch!
      2. that the porch is big enough and high enough
      3. that you feel confident in the stove and watch it like a hawk (no clutter around it)

      Its not ideal but rain is a bugger for cooking and no mistake!

      I have to admit that when i was a teenager I did sometimes cook IN the tent not just the porch which really is silly and something that I stopped doing fairly rapidly

  4. I was very lucky when cooking in the back of a Trailstar last year. I stupidly was cooking at the opposite end to the opening when I turned away from the stove to get more water and the Jetboil Sol Ti had a meltdown with it disintegrating onto the Gas canister, the molten metal burned through the Tyvek ground sheet, luckly I put it out before it did anything to the Trailstar and my other half never noticed any of this, she was still fast asleep.

    I have cooked in the Trailstar since and will continue to do so but it will be in the entrance from now on.

    The UK distributors of the Jetboil said it was my fault and refused to replace the Sol Ti. Jetboil themselves didn’t say this but said it was up to the UK distributors.

    • backpackbrewer says:

      blimey, a lucky escape indeed Steve even more so that the missus didnt spot it!

      In all seriousness though it is worth almost “risk assessing” each individual tent and cooking method for fire risk.

      Thanks for sharing the story with me, obviously as a camping fraternity we will have many near miss incidences like this that perhaps dont get known about

    • nielsenbrownoutdoors says:

      It seems to me that the Jetboil distributors vary from country to country, which is unreasonable in my view. Here in Dk my burner was replaced, no questions asked. Jetboil needs to get a handle on their distributor chain.

      • backpackbrewer says:

        agreed ,

        its far too easy for manufacturers to absolve reponsibility and defer it to the distributor to sort out

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