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Airplane Catches Fire at Livermore Airport

There were no injuries from the small plane fire that was extinguished by the fire department.

When a pilot started the engine of a small plane at Livermore Municipal Airport Saturday morning, the plane suddenly caught fire, but the blaze was quickly extinguished by the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department without any injuries, the fire department said in a press release.

The fire department was alerted to the fire at 9:48 a.m. and were at the scene about three minutes later. The plane, a 35-year-old Cessna 152, had a fire in the engine compartment.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze and after an initial investigation the fire department believes the battery to the plane was to blame for the flames. The fire did not appear suspicious in nature.

The pilot was unharmed and told firefighters that the amount of damage probably meant the plane would not be worth the price of repair.

RB Victor February 10, 2013 at 03:43 PM
Batteries don't burn. More likely a fuel issue that could have been ignited by an electrical spark.
Californicated1 February 10, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Indeed. Batteries do not burn, but if they are being charged up or even short-circuited--be they directly from positive to negative terminal or through one of the circuits in the electrical system--batteries will generate a great deal of heat and some, if heated hot enough, will eventually reach a tolerance threshold where the battery casing will melt, sometimes even catching fire and even catching something else that is combustible on fire, too. If you have had a laptop, you've probably noticed some of that behavior, too with the laptop's battery and that some of them have been known to generate great amounts of heat, both in the charging and discharging of their electric charge, the point where the battery is hot enough to even be dangerous to the equipment and the life around it. And as an IT professional, the best thing I recommend to people who ask me about this characteristic in their battery-powered devices is to provide adequate ventilation and isolate the device as much as possible from the other equipment nearby. And if you have a laptop, invest in a "chill mat", which is a flat box with at least one fan in it (I usually get them with at least two so if one fan fails, others are still functioning to cool the laptop, the battery and everything around them, including your lap itself). And when it comes to batteries, I wonder how heat is being drawn away from the battery to keep them cool enough so they don't cause combustibles to catch fire.
MTCWBY February 10, 2013 at 07:52 PM
On that plane I'd bet on a carburetor, fuel line or primer problem. Especially on an engine start.
D Hull February 11, 2013 at 05:11 PM
I'm wondering why the fire department didn't use a CO2 or foam or perhaps a Halon fire extinguisher instead of WATER!!! No wonder the airplane is considered a total loss. Whether it's a battery fire or a gasoline fire, why would they put WATER on an aluminum airplane on fire?
RB Victor February 18, 2013 at 04:36 PM
As all you flying types know, the 152 has a four cylinder horizontally opposed engine with an updraft carburetor located below the cylinders. It's not unheard of to have a fuel fire occur in the carb air intake box when over priming results in gas flooding the box, and then being ignited by a "backfire" from the cylinder down through the intake manifold. The recommended procedure is to open the throttle fully and continue attempting an engine start (at least for the short term) with a running engine "sucking in" the fire. If this doesn't work, best to retreat, shout "fire" ( you never know who may be nearby with a fire extinguisher) and call 911.

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