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Re: [pct-l] Stove Fuel Accidents

Last Memorial Day weekend I witnessed an MSR Whisperlite self-destruct in a
wall of flame. I was staying at the Mashipacong Shelter on the AT in NJ
when it happened. Luckily the owner was cooking on a large flat rock some
distance in front of the shelter or the shelter could very well have been
lost. As it was, a small grass fire ensued that was eventually put out by
the combined contents of everyone's water bottles and water bladders.
Luckily for all involved the owner's fuel bottle was less than 1/8 full. If
the bottle had been completely full I don't think we could have controlled
the fire.

The thing that was most alarming about the incident is that the stove's
owner seemed very careful and responsible and didn't do anything unusual in
starting up his stove. He had used the stove many times while covering
about 500 miles of the AT.

There may have been a leak in the stove pump mechanism, or the line leading
into the burner, or the valve may have failed. No problems with the stove
were obvious when it was assembled. When the stove was primed and ignited,
flames just slowly spread out from the burner onto the rock. the tank, and
the surrounding grassy area until a wall of fire almost 5 feet high was
blazing away. Since the tank was so nearly empty the fire died down
considerably after only a few minutes and we were able to put it out
without much problem, since we had all just filled our water bladders and

After witnessing that incident I replaced my MSR XGK II with a Mini-Trangia
28 alcohol stove. Very light weight, very simple, and much safer!

Michael Connick

E-mail: Michael_Connick@clmt.com
Michael's Ultralight Backpacking Page:

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