Near miss: Unseen fire in air filter

Safety Alert Type: 
Heavy Equipment
South Okanagan Valley
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
Spruce Valley Contracting Ltd.
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

Early in the day (around 9:00 a.m.), a buncher operator suddenly lost hydraulic pressure in his machine. He looked over his shoulder and noted grey smoke billowing from the engine compartment. He quickly opened the engine hood and using his fire extinguishers, put out the fire.

The built-in system didn’t activate as the fire had just started and hadn’t got hot enough to trigger the sensors.

The operator and crew investigated and discovered the main hydraulic hose out of the pump had broken a fitting (red arrow in photo on page 2 of the attached pdf) and sprayed oil onto the turbo which quickly ignited. Quick detection and response prevented any damage other than cleaning soot and residual oil. The operator worked on the hose and left for parts about an hour after the fire. No heat or flame was noted.

At about 11:30 a.m. the skidder operator decided to inspect the machine again and discovered the air filter was smoldering. It burst into flame as soon as it was removed. If the skidder operator had not come to check the buncher, it would likely have sustained substantial more damage or been a total loss.

Learnings and Suggestions: 

1. Always check the scene of any fire several times even after it appears to be fully extinguished.

2. Be especially aware of unseen fire that may smolder in accumulations of needles and debris and in air filters for hours after initial extinguishment.

For more information on this submitted alert: 

For more information: Darren Hyde, Spruce Valley Contracting Ltd. 250-328-8025

File attachments
Near miss: Unseen fire in air filter.pdf
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