|This cover for the front of the computer pretty much just melted and fell to the floor.|
It's like getting hit by lightning. (Or so I imagine. I've never actually been hit by lightning. I don't know anybody that's been hit by lightning.) And as getting struck by lightning is not exactly an everyday occurrence, so is this...
What am I talking about? Putting out a computer fire.
And I can honestly say that I have dealt with such a fire. And, it was not the most pleasant experience. (In fact, it's taken almost two months for me to write it down.)
But let me start with a little background. As an indie film production company, we have multiple computers that we work on to edit our film projects. To help us know which computer is which, we've given names to each of our computers. The computer in question is called "Apollo".
Okay. So, back in October, Apollo caught on fire.
I'm not talking about any little fire. I mean flames -- yes, flames -- were shooting out of the computer.
|The front of the computer.|
Do I need to back up a bit? Probably.
Let me set the scene. I was working on another of our computers (the production office one), which is in the upstairs office. Nobody was around except me. (In fact, Martin had just left.) Apollo was in the basement office. So, that meant I was quite a distance away, blissfully unaware of any unauthorized disaster that was about to take place.
I was rather puzzled when I smelled something burning. What could be burning? I had no clue. I decided to investigate.
Here's what I saw, even before I fully understood what was happening. A glow and the sound of flames. (If you've ever been around a camp fire that's going strong, that's the same sound.) It was about this same time that the fire alarm decided it, too, smelled smoke and started to screech its warning.
That's when I rounded the corner and saw the computer. On fire.
My first thought was "Fire Extinguisher". I ran to grab it, then hurried back to Apollo, pulled the pin at the top and aimed it at the computer. I pressed down on the handle, but...
It. Did. Not. Work.
I ran to find the phone. I couldn't find the phone.
I tried the extinguisher again. I still couldn't get it to work! I ran to get water (fully aware that you should never use water for an electrical fire, but I was desperate). I didn't manage to get much water as the water came out of the tap too slowly for the current situation. (Fires will not wait for slow taps.) So I abandoned the water idea. I tried the extinguisher AGAIN.
This time it worked.
Two squirts. The fire was out.
I opened windows. I couldn't believe the amount of black smoke. (Meanwhile, the fire alarm continued to screech. I decided it was time to silence it, but thankful that it worked and did its job.)
So, what happened to the computer? And why did it spontaneously combust? We still don't quite know. Perhaps it was the dust accumulation. (Let me tell you, I've become a bit of a dust-buster when it comes to computer dust.) Perhaps also a power surge of some sort.
Apollo is a very sad sight right now. It will soon be sitting in a computer graveyard, I suppose.
What did we lose? We actually don't know exactly quite what we lost... yet. Fortunately most of the drives were pretty much up-to-date and backed up on our backup drives. Most of the footage from our movie Lost Penny was not on Apollo. Although some was and we may have lost a few clips.
We just got the new computer... Apollo's replacement. (Assembled by SLP Computer Repairs. Thanks, Steve! And thanks to Autumn for helping with cleaning and painting the smoke-damaged room!) And slowly we are going through each hard drive. (Except for 2 or 3 of the drives that suffered the most fire damage. They might be hopeless. I mean they were On Fire!)
So, while I would not recommend to anybody to have to go through such an experience, I would recommend keeping any computer you have dust-free and fully backed-up on a regular basis. And a working knowledge (and quick access) to a fire extinguisher. (Sadly you can't test a fire extinguisher out as it won't be any good once you've done so.)
How do you put out a computer fire?
Quickly. Although, I hope you never have to.
P.S. Oh, the new computer's name? "Phoenix".
About our Guest Blogger...
MARIA ANTONIA wears many hats on a CubeCity film set, from Production Coordinator to 1st A.D. to Script Supervisor. She was inspired and awed by her recent trip to film in Haiti, and is glad she had little contact with Haitian insects (although, she is still taking her malaria medication, just in case).
If you would like to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.