rubbish fires on expeditions instead of cleaning up after themselves

lumenchild

Member
so today i was told that a certain gouffre berger explorers club had been lighting fires,
What is your opinion on fires in caves?

 

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royfellows

Well-known member
Causes roof falls, a group of teenagers having a party in some sandstone mines were killed or injured doing just this.

Obviously other considerations as well, but human life is no 1 priority.
 

popeass1

New member
I'd agree that it's a very reckless thing to do, not just because the heat can cause collapse, but depending on the ventilation, smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide could be a problem.
It would also soot the Cave and it's features, and I doubt the bats would like it either.
 

adam

Member
Rubbish fires are generally a bad idea, and particularly in caves. Even with a reasonable draught, smoke can hang around in caves for ages. If there are other cavers in the system, there's no escaping it - they'll be breathing it in. I'd be fairly annoyed if I was down the Berger in a haze of plastic smoke.

The ash from rubbish fires is also a problem, being high in heavy metals and usually containing bits of metal foil and part-burned plastic. How is this disposed of? I'm guessing it's not.

Burning rubbish is just a lazy way of getting rid of it - not much better than just leaving litter. If it's been brought in it can be brought out and disposed of properly.
 

Olaf

New member
I'm not going to add anything to the idea of burning rubbish. But does anyone know whether the problem of fires causing collapse could also apply to cooking at an underground camp? Obviously, you'd want most of the heat to go into whatever you are cooking or maybe into the tent you want to heat, but it just never occurred to me that this might still increase the chance of collapse...
 

SamT

Moderator
adam said:
Burning rubbish is just a lazy way of getting rid of it - not much better than just leaving litter. If it's been brought in it can be brought out and disposed of properly.

What - by putting it in a bin, where it'll be picked up in a fossil fueled Bin Wagon, driven miles, then buried in a different hole in the ground.

Just playing devils advocate but sometimes its worth thinking whether its better left where it is or not. 
(this notion was the result of a conversation about having a clear up in Croesor and the pro's and cons of just bagging it all up and sinking it on of the deep lakes).

Definitely not a good idea to burn it inside the cave.  but having a fire pit at the entrance and burning it might not be so bad.
 

royfellows

Well-known member
Olaf said:
I'm not going to add anything to the idea of burning rubbish. But does anyone know whether the problem of fires causing collapse could also apply to cooking at an underground camp? Obviously, you'd want most of the heat to go into whatever you are cooking or maybe into the tent you want to heat, but it just never occurred to me that this might still increase the chance of collapse...

Interesting thought.
Its the rising heat that does it. I would reasonably expect though that there was stuff about to drop anyway and the rising heat is the final straw. I suggest checking roof condition in an area to be used for cooking as best solution.

Similar issues can arise in high entrances due to frost.
 

adam

Member
SamT said:
What - by putting it in a bin, where it'll be picked up in a fossil fueled Bin Wagon, driven miles, then buried in a different hole in the ground.

Fair point, but I think the general idea of landfills is that they are a designated, licensed site which is managed to minimise pollution as opposed to everyone just burying their rubbish in their backyard, or wherever else they feel like burying it.

It's a different argument when doing a clear up of other people's rubbish as in your Croesor example - if there's no way of getting it out, then sinking it might be a reasonable option. Just a thought though - how about bagging it up and asking each tourist trip to take one bag out?
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
There has been rubbish burnt in the Berger - I've seen pictures of it!  Also, years ago, I was in Daren Cilau when rubbish was burnt at the Hard Rock camp.  It filled the passages with smoke and everyone had to pack up and crawl around on their knees just to get out of the cave.  It was definitely declared a very bad idea.

I suspect you've got to generate quite a lot of heat to bring the roof down but it is the combustible products which would concern me.  It's antisocial to other cavers,or species and not a practice which benefits any conservation of the cave.  Bag it up and bring it out I say.
 

Maj

Active member
royfellows said:
Olaf said:
I'm not going to add anything to the idea of burning rubbish. But does anyone know whether the problem of fires causing collapse could also apply to cooking at an underground camp? Obviously, you'd want most of the heat to go into whatever you are cooking or maybe into the tent you want to heat, but it just never occurred to me that this might still increase the chance of collapse...

Interesting thought.
Its the rising heat that does it. I would reasonably expect though that there was stuff about to drop anyway and the rising heat is the final straw. I suggest checking roof condition in an area to be used for cooking as best solution.

Similar issues can arise in high entrances due to frost.

The heat from cooking has often crossed my mind whilst down at Hard Rock.
I wonder how many Hard Rock Cafe diners have checked the roof there?
I have  :eek: :eek: :eek:
But it's held up since the camp was first set up in the 70's.  :coffee:

Maj.
 

Fulk

Well-known member
Maybe there's a big difference between a rock shelter-type cave where the rock would be exposed to weathering, and, perhaps, already weakened (as seems to be the case with the site of the fatality referred to above) and a 'proper' cave (such as the Hard Rock Caf?)?

Incidentally, many years ago we were walking from Clapham to go down Alum Pot (heaven alone knows why, but we were . . . I guess it must have had something to do with being dropped off at a location that suited the driver rather the cavers) when we noticed what we took to be a column of water-vapour ? 'steam' ? arising from the vicinity of Bar Pot. We figured that there must have been some odd atmospheric conditions obtaining, that had caused relatively warm, moist air to rise out of the cave and then condensation to have occurred when it hit the outside air. So we walked over to have a look, only to find that it was a column of smoke. We decided to have a look down Bar, but got no further than the entrance, as we were driven back by the smoke ?we couldn't even tell if the cave was rigged or not.

So we returned the next day to find that the whole place reeked horribly of smoke, and there were the remains of a fire at the bottom of the big pitch. There was no obvious trace of anybody else in the system at the time . . . fortunately, as we had wondered if the fire-setters might have been overcome by smoke and we were about to find them down there. Maybe they just sat round the fire at the bottom of the pitch, and the cave acted as a huge chimney, taking the smoke out of harm's way (as far as they were concerned at any rate). We never did find out who had lit the fire, or why ? maybe someone thought they were doing a good turn by burning rubbish they had collected.
 

Wayland Smith

Active member
I think that the tragedy in the Bridgenorth rock shelter was possibly a "campfire" made from wood which may have been quite fierce.
Rather than the very limited heat of a cooking stove.
 
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