BoatU.S. magazine dispels boat fire myth

ALEXANDRIA , Va. – The April 2004 issue of Seaworthy, the damage avoidance magazine published by BoatU.S. Marine Insurance, investigates vessel fires reported as a result of improperly stored charcoal spontaneously combusting, BoatU.S. reported in a recent statement.

“In doing our boat fire study, we couldn’t find any claims for fires that were caused by charcoal self igniting,” said Marine Insurance Technical Director Bob Adriance. “But some of our 550,000 members believed that it was a concern, so we had the responsibility to investigate the issue further.”

While Adriance and his team found over 500 charcoal/spontaneous combustion warnings at various Web sites, ultimately research presented by P.J. Pagni, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, revealed that “spontaneous combustion of charcoal sold to consumers is not a possibility because of its processing, small quantity and container.”

The myth started because “Charcoal’s first cousin — coal — has a well documented history of self-combustion when damp or stored in large quantities,” said Adriance. “It’s likely that since the two are similar looking, have similar burning characteristics and even same sounding names, the combustion properties can easily be confused.”

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