After Hours

When fire and technology mix

Fire set to desktop PC and peripherals

One thing that doesn't mix well with technology is fire. However, sometimes accidents happen - or curious and/or frustrated people may decide to combine the two. Here are some photos of computers and peripherals that are either burning or have been burned. Please do not try this at work or at home.

Photo credit: riot68 at www.riot68.com

Check out these fire prevention resources on TechRepublic:

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

52 comments
AWOTOYEABASS
AWOTOYEABASS

its isnt something to pray for but it can happen wen it isnt espected, my advice is that we should all inculcate the habit of backing up our jobs to avoid absolute data loss.

lklug
lklug

I don't see any Macs burning in these pictures. :-)

bhaven23
bhaven23

We were extremely fortunate. We used to hold adult education classes in a church. One Wednesday evening, during services, a passerby stopped to let the people know that smoke was coming from the attic. Only the piano was salvaged. Had we been still holding classes there $25,000 worth of computers and software would have been lost!

JCitizen
JCitizen

FIRE!! FIRE!! Heh!Heh! - Heh! ]:) v/

figglywig
figglywig

Somehow, oddly, this made me feel a lot better. Last week was far too busy with jacked-up systems for my tastes... thanks for posting it!

boomchuck1
boomchuck1

Well this was a total waste of electrons.

sboverie
sboverie

There is a point where repair is not possible and that is when the napalm solution comes into play. It doesn't fix anything but at least no one can force you to keep fixing it. Burning electronics is not safe or good for anything. My take on the photos of burning/burned computers is a fantasy of a relief from the frustration of being stuck with a problem that is best solved by moving on and retiring the old hardware.

gscratchley
gscratchley

somebody *really* doesn't like NeXt...

Arcturus909
Arcturus909

We seem to have a few people offended by these photos and the non-newsworthy nature of the post. I'll address the second thing first - guys, Fridays are traditionally a "light" day for TechRepublic. If you aren't interested in funny/fluffy/kewl articles then I'd suggest you don't visit on Fridays, or if you do, cruise through some old articles you never got a chance to read until now. As far as the first complaint goes, a few photographers setting fire to plastic for an interesting photo is not going to have a significant impact on the environment. When you send your old computers to the dump, what do you think happens to them? Same thing, in mass. Even if you are concientious enough to bother recycling, the plastic bits (assuming recycling centers even bother) get melted down, producing fumes. Really, anyone who BUYS a computing device or cell phone is contributing to the destruction of the planet far more carelessly than these photographers. Sorry that three of the posts I read said, "This is just my opinion and nobody needs to respond" and I responded. :) Number one is my favorite!

heyyoucraig
heyyoucraig

This is an irresponsibly ignorant and repugnant, not to mention hazardous, thing to do intentionally. That's it, that's all. No need to comment any further. Come on TR, focus on bringing value to the web not stupidity, there is enough of that already.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

Toxic gases given off by burning electronics and plastic are very bad for you. Burning plastics also creates and releases some dioxins which are are scarey as hell; think Agent Orange and you have the right idea. As someone else mentioned, lots of heavy, toxic metals in these things and burning is NOT an environmentally approved method of disposal. Burning a computer turns it from a resource that can be disassembled and recycled in multiple organized waste streams (iron, copper, gold, etc) into a pile of trash that isn't very recoverable except for the iron content. However, I haven't heard that the cops, the FBI, or even the NSA can recover data from a hard drive that has been both smashed and seriously burned. Every single electrical fire I've seen was due to arson, unsafe usage or assembly, or failure to maintain the system. I've never run into a faulty component actually causing the fire. Fires belong in fire places, burning wood. Hardwoods like oak, maple, or apple inside, pine works outside where you don't have to worry about creosote buildup in the chimney. Burn on a cool night, with a good drink, and a willing partner to snuggle up next to. Leave the electronic doorstop in the recycle bin.

JoeRJr
JoeRJr

Why this? Instead, why not contact and interview people that have or are developing reasonable sized fire-retardant boxes that can be optionally WiFi accessed, to store/backup systems, and be located in secure areas of home or office, away from direct flames, etc ? From what we have seen in the labs and garages, most of these ideas are sound, they seem to work, and appear economically feasible. As an author, I can be reached at info@windowgroup.com or Skype: joerotello

coolmark82
coolmark82

When people who live in poor countries have no access to such things, you guys destroy them. How nice =(. You might as well destroy that priceless iPad or Power Mac of yours just for fun so you don't have to destroy it 10 years from now.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000 moderator

Looks as if we need to bring back Halon Fire Suppression Systems to protect the Gene Pool. It's bad enough having to pickup junk like the above when it's an accident but to deliberately burn it and pollute the place baggers belief. Now if we could lock these people in a Room with a Halon Fire Suppression System the damage/pollution wouldn't be anywhere near as bad and the person starting the fire wouldn't be a problem for future generations. ;) I can remember scaring the living daylights out of a Bunch of Bureaucrats who didn't consider it necessary to hook up the Oxygen for the people in one of those Halon Rooms and I will remember to my dieing day when I triggered the Fire Suppression System and the way that they ran around trying to find portable oxygen to survive till they where let out. I just laughed saying those are 3 minute supplies and it's going to take 30 minutes for the people to get here to open the doors don't bother. But if you had the Main O2 Connected no one here would have a problem. Instead we are all dead. Any [b]Last Wishes?[/b] :D For some strange reason I didn't have any issues with Pulling the workers from that place till I considered it Safe. Now if only I could find out who turned off the Halon and allowed us all to live. :^0 Col

rico.thorn
rico.thorn

Whoa, what's with the nextcube embers?

CodeCurmudgeon
CodeCurmudgeon

While fire and electronics surely aren't compatible, you could argue that all technology derives from mankind's mastery of fire. Without fire, we could have never progressed beyond the stone age. Without fire, we wouldn't have pottery, never mind the vast quantities of metals we use today.

Bo Tym
Bo Tym

in response to the guy who mentioned mass electronics burning at dumps... I'm not sure where you live, but around here we recycle electronics, if they cant be reused for parts, yes they are melted down... in a safe environment where the fumes are collected for reburn or filtered, solidified, and pressed into blocks of (basically) carbon. generally speaking usable components would be stripped out of the machines for re-assembley. the "new" computer/stero/tv is then given to charity, which passes it on to people less fortunate than those willing to burn these things for kicks. people who deserve them.

lupin109
lupin109

It's safer for the environment and more fun too!! What? Every IT pro gets that one f'n computer that needs some "hammer-time".

rmerchberger
rmerchberger

The cases were made of Magnesium (or at least an alloy that contained quite a large amount thereof) which burns quite brightly once set alight. There are many web pages that deal with individuals who took the cases from dead NeXTs just for that very purpose. Pictures of burning plastic (computer or otherwise) doesn't really do much for me, but I'd love to see a NeXT case go up. Laterz!

paisleygo
paisleygo

If you didn't have some sort of interest in this (it's a funny way to take a quick break from the mundaneness of life) then you wouldn't have ended up here in the first place -- and um hullo - you even took the time to post a comment? wow

Jetskier77
Jetskier77

wow....that was thrilling...must have been a slow news day

dustin.cabe
dustin.cabe

The original NeXT Computer workstation was housed in a cube-shaped magnesium enclosure if you did not know the spark ignition in Butane lighters is a mix of iron and magnesium. So magnesium burns quite hot and with a white flame

tony.maine
tony.maine

Result of attempted hack of www.satan.com?

freaknout
freaknout

Considering current lithium battery technology Im kind of surprised this isn't more instances of this then there are. LI batteries have a tendency to explode out fire up both during charging and discharging and considering the way they are installed in laptops in series it kind of surprising it doesn't happen more often then it does in spite of protected batteries or not. When installed in series like that controlling them from a single point doesn't really solve the problem. Anybody who has rebuilt their laptop batteries knows aht Im talking about

drolfe
drolfe

Why is this even news worthy? TechRepublic has good articles and is an excellent resource, but this article certainly isn't one of them.

staffordd
staffordd

If we step back and look at this set of images objectively, only one question really springs to mind - why would we indulge a lust for destruction by burning and pass it off as entertainment when it's actually potentially symptomatic of ... a tendency towards arson. In simpler terms, "funny" images of computers burning, bring out the fire bug in all of us. I could not bear to open more than about two of them, because I just feel that this is entirely negative reinforcement, and regardless of whether you BURN them, or SLEDGEHAMMER them, it's still about violence and destruction, and serves no purpose but to encourage the same. People get enough ideas for how to destroy computers, buildings, countries or planets just from "ordinary TV". I suggest that Tech Republic should take a more responsible stance than this, and NOT publish images that celebrate the destruction of property through intentional arson. Also, those of you who clicked through each and every image, greedily lapping up the violence on display - it's time to think, am I an arsonist? Do I need help. Maybe. This is just an opinion, no point in getting bent into or out of shape because I express it, I just see this as pure evil, burning things is not good, apart from the pollution angle which several folk mentioned, apart from the release of horrible chemicals and substances into our air and water when these devices are burned, as other folk have mentioned - I humbly submit, this encourages, and gives ideas to, and feeds the sick addictions of - budding pyromaniacs everywhere. I really do feel let down by Tech Republic, who in my opinion, should know better. Let's try to accentuate the positive, and NOT encourage more acts of destruction, in a world that is, let's face it, already overrun with enough terror to last us several lifetimes. Why would you ADD to that? It does, as one person said, beggar belief, it really does. All the best! have fun - without burning anything d.

eblank
eblank

(*sigh* Wet Blanket alert!) While this may be slightly carthitic to burn the old PC's and 'stuff' it really is BAD for the environment. These systems have lots of toxic materials in them from Cadnimum to Arsinic to other haevy metals that are released into the environment when the machines are burned. There are large areas of Asia and Africaa that have poisned their water tables and land by 'reclaining' precious metals through burning old PC hardware. Let's not encourage any more of this... no matter HOW good it may make you feel when your doing it!

Arcturus909
Arcturus909

Yes, there are facilities for recycling where I live. I use them - others don't. But I suspect quite strongly that very little of the material collected at the facilities in my town actually gets recycled. There is no large facility nearby for doing so. Even if they shipped every single piece to a large center for complete recycling, the amount of fuel burned by the trucks to get it there would almost negate the environmental "saving" that the recycling itself would generate. And the processing of the material back into usable electronics would cancel out the rest. I realize I'm mucking with people's defensive belief systems here. It is awful to know that by loving technology and buying new computers, camera and phones every couple of years, we are speeding the demise of the planet we live on, but we really are. Your reference to a closed system to gain carbon blocks from controlled burning is encouraging, but Google gives me no such information. Can you provide a link that describes the process and/or who is using it? I'd like to read up on this.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I recycle PCs and components for the PC disabled. We have a lot of poor folk out in the desert. I like helping the disadvantaged with their computer needs.

cphillips
cphillips

You got it right. I can think of not good reason to publish these pictures.

DNSB
DNSB

From what you wrote, I gain the impression that you are a person who worries that reading a story about a child molester would make someone want to go out and molest a child, that reading about child suicide bombers would make someone consider dressing their child in plastique before sending out to play. You worry that your neighbour who loves racing games is going to head down the street at 200km/h, running over children, animals and the occasional SWAT team member. Of course, this would not happen to you due to your superior moral armour. Wile I didn't approve of the flambeed computers, neither did I worry that I was going to be driven towards the charcoaled side by viewing those images. Perhaps you drop your delving into pop psychology and leave psychology to the professionals. If this product of a long line of maiden aunts website would recognize accented characters, I could have spelled flamb?ed properly.

coolmark82
coolmark82

I do also see this as pure evil. These computers could be used in less fortunate countries where technology is scarce, and yet people like this encourage destruction. I never would have put my mind to it that Techrepublic, a professional website that I turn to whenever I need help for my macs, does this. I am not as big whenever it comes to a computer organization, www.midnightimods.weebly.com, but even I know this is wrong. Even as a child back then i would know it's wrong. We are civilized humans who build and tinker around, and not prehistoric cavemen who sit around to the simple entertainment of fire. I am surprised a violent species such as humans can survive this many millions of years without succumbing to end of the world crisis. One suggestion. If you humans decide to live on to the ages of Mars and later, starships, scratch out that "Fire" interest of yours because fire is an element to be used wisely, and not to be played with. The mind can only perceive the dangers of fire when in uncontrollable huge quantities, so it is suggested not to play with fire at all.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

Nobody at TR did this. Had you checked the photo credits, you might also have noticed that some of these images are of equipment that went through a structural fire. Given your rant, yours peers at TR now expect you to remove all electronics from the next burning building you see, regardless of the risk to yourself. {speaking to camera in Foghorn Leghorn voice} Nice kid, but about as sharp as a sack of wet mice...

jcarroll
jcarroll

I agree 100%. It was troubling to look at the pics, couldn't look at them all. Not cool at all.

pivert
pivert

Is there any news or educational value in this? A 13 yr old may find this kewl or some frustrated user... re-use, recycle guys, every small bit helps...

fiosdave
fiosdave

I guess we will have to stop saying "Let's fire up the computer"!

gavin142
gavin142

a much more direct involvement in PC destruction... a concrete parking lot, a busted machine, & a 9# sledgehammer all combine into one wonderfully cathartic experience :)

JCitizen
JCitizen

my uncle has a local landfill run by the city on some of his old property. This one, you can barely smell, and the water wells are monitored by the state. We don't have un-inspected dumps where I live. Commercial dumps must be sealed to the water table and the drain out monitored. Eventually this will get too expensive and reusing waste will pay off. It is not hard to believe, that even with the vast expanse of the US, that also (eventually) - everyone will say "Not in my backyard!"

JCitizen
JCitizen

more trash than they recycle! Once the infrastructure is in place it pays off! The only problem, is whether you can do this in the US, with the constitution and the commerce clause in the way. So far, some communities are happy to be paid to take garbage, as it is the only thing they have going for them, in their location. (edited)- for spelling.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

The last time I was in Germany, we were required to use the "Gelbe Sacke" for those plastics and other materials that could not be thrown away or otherwise recycled. I can't find a link to it, but I remember reading an article in the late 90s that the German environmental minister was forced to resign. The controversay was, since there was no economical way to recycle this material and they were running out of storage space for it, they had been sending container-loads of these yellow sacks to South America for burial in dumps. etu

JCitizen
JCitizen

in San Antonio Texas. The university developed a recycling center that made it possible to separate all materials automatically; and I mean totally separate! Soon all that matter piled up in abandoned warehouses all over town, and ended up burning down! So much for recycling! The demand will come some day, but when for the US - I don't know. Materials should be conveyed by rail-car - that is the only proven energy saver bar-none!

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

Any time I'm working with a long post and a bunch of those characters in it, I'll do it in Notepad or Wordpad, then paste it in. I'll also save it in "post.txt" so that if I have to edit, I can open that and not lose my characters.

DNSB
DNSB

since my keyboard has the accented characters on it (Canadian Multilingual Standard) and they show when I type the character but change to a ? when the message is saved. And I did mean flambéed. Hmmm... when you edit the post, it changes to a ? again.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

For whatever reason, you have to use the html characters here; the site simply doesn't seem to want to display anything higher than &chr126. So, to get flambéd, you would actually type "flambéd"

timothy.lagerstrom
timothy.lagerstrom

I mean really, no point. We know that fire destroys, and plastic/silicon melt, soot is created. Not very interesting. Interesting would be "these computers were damaged in fires caused from ......" Bad capacitor, hard drive fault, etc... but just setting them on fire is boring.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000 moderator

While a TV Add here with a Fotty Team Member kicking the living daylights out of a Racked Server was funny to me I heard many people say is that how you start one of those? Personally I would expect a lot of Claims against the employer because of the Unsafe Work Environment that leads to broken bones in the Feet and Lower Legs. :D Col

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

At one of my assignments, a primary communications site failed. The response was "Let's fire up the link to the backup." One individual heard this as "There's a fire at the backup." Need I say more?