The lift truck shown in Figure 5 was engulfed by flames while being used inside a
plant. Substantial damage occurred to the lift truck as well as to the building. Burn
Figure 5 Figure 6
pattern analysis, along with witness accounts, indicates that the fire started in the vehicle. Figure 6 shows the engine compartment. Examination of burn pattern evidence in the engine compartment shows a fire origin near a reinforced propane fuel line as shown by the arrow. Figure 7 is a close-up of a faulted metal reinforcing mesh that contacted the positive terminal on the battery post.
Figure 7 Figure 8
Apparently, the fuel line was misrouted and was sandwiched between the engine cover and the battery post. As a result of engine vibration, the outer polymer covering eventually wore away, allowing the wire reinforcement of the fuel line to contact the battery post. Improper routing of the fuel line was the ultimate cause of the loss.
The lift truck in Figure 8 sustained an engine compartment fire while being
operated in a freight yard. Figure 9 shows the badly damaged engine and
transmission area under the operatorís seat. Residual hydraulic oil around the
Figure 9 Figure 10
transmission is characteristic of oil leakage in the form of a spray of liquid onto the exhaust manifold. Atomized hot oil is easily ignited by hot surfaces (see Claims, April 1995). Wear-out of the hydraulic hoses was the likely cause of the loss.
Figure 10 shows a fuel cylinder mounted on the back of a lift truck. Figure 11 is a
top view of the fuel cylinder the sustained a BLEVE during a warehouse fire. Heat
transfer from an external source weakened the aluminum propane cylinder walls,
causing the release of propane. Many fires and explosions are incorrectly attributed to lift trucks based on the fact that a BLEVE occurred. In many instances a BLEVE is a result of a fire from another source.
To aide in the determination of the involvement of a lift truck in a fire,
maintenance records, recall notices, witness statements and information regarding
fuel cylinder replacement and inspection is helpful. It is not unusual to find a lift
truck buried under an unrecognizable pile of building rubble where burn pattern
recognition is virtually impossible, leading to a conclusion of undetermined cause.
Careful handling of evidence is a must to avoid complications brought on by
spoliation (See Claims, June 1992).