That’s one way to warm a shop.

Shop mechanic and Redditor /u/Agreeable_ad5620 shared shop floor security camera footage to the /r/JustRolledIntoTheShop subreddit showing the surprising moment a dish heater caused fumes from nearby chemicals to ignite, causing a customer’s Mercedes SLK convertible to catch fire in the process.

Check out the security camera footage for yourself.

Trying to warm the shop
byu/Agreeable_Ad5620 inJustrolledintotheshop

It looks like mechanics were reviewing the video footage to find the source of the fire. It happened so fast, I can imagine there was some confusion figuring where exactly the fire came from.

It’s hard to make out in the video, but the mechanic is spraying the engine with brake cleaner from a pressurized, refillable canister, a lot like this one below.

Moments before disaster, a mechanic sprays on brake cleaner.
A refillable brake cleaner container called Sure Shot.

In the bottom right corner, you can see he’s using a personal dish heater.

“We have a massive waste oil heater. The techs just like to be extra warm.”

All of a sudden, fumes from the brake cleaner reach the dish heater surface, causing the fumes to ignite.

Brake cleaner fumes ignite.

Although there are non-flammable brake cleaners, most shops use the bog-standard, highly flammable stuff.

The fire follows the fumes across the shop floor and into the Mercedes engine compartment.

The mechanic quickly goes for a nearby fire extinguisher, but has trouble taking out the safety pin.

Thankfully, another quick thinking mechanic rushes to the fire, shoots his fire extinguisher, and successfully puts out the flames.

“I know we’re laughing, but it’s not funny,” we can hear another mechanic say.

By that time, the damage has been done. Likely wires and the hood itself is compromised and will have to be replaced.

Although it’s an older Mercedes, genuine replacement parts are expensive.

“That is not the first fire that dude has put out.. effortless, left the hose clipped in and all,” /u/falaffels commented.

“You need a fire training session. Guy was in full panic mode. Glad you’re all ok. Cars are replaceable, people are not,” /u/Stayhigh420– added.

Best practices for personal space heater safety say to put space heaters at least three feet from flammable objects.

While that mechanic’s space heater was technically more than 3 feet away from the car he’s working on, he didn’t take into account how flammable chemical fumes can travel.

Honestly, I don’t think most mechanics take that into consideration.

If you use a personal space heater near where you wrench or manage a shop, it’s probably a good idea to review personal space heater safety to mitigate risks involved in their use.

While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to see if your techs have fire extinguishers, if they’re up-to-date, and if they know how to use them.


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