Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Spontaneous combustion

As The Star learned last week, it has not, in fact, been hot enough to fry an egg on the pavement (or a cast iron skillet).

In Arlington, Texas, however, it was apparently hot enough for a school playground to spontaneously go up in flames.

From the Jeff Mosier of The Dallas Morning News today:

ARLINGTON – The sudden heat wave has brought something more menacing than sunburns and higher electric bills. The latest sign of summer just might be spontaneous combustion.

Arlington schools Superintendent Mac Bernd announced Monday that he would replace all the "engineered wood fiber" material on the district's playgrounds after one burst into flames last week. A review of footage from a surveillance camera determined that no one was around to start the fire – either accidentally or intentionally.

"It was like a perfect storm," Deputy Fire Marshal Keith Ebel said.

He said the fire Thursday at Anderson Elementary apparently started from heat generated by decomposition of the wood chips and high temperatures from the recent heat wave. Marshal Ebel said this might not have happened without the rainy first half of the summer followed by high heat.

Dr. Bernd said 35 playgrounds at 20 schools would be closed by the end of the day Monday. He said it would take two weeks and $200,000 to replace the wood fiber with pea gravel.

See the full story here and see the video here.

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