My house had a nitrate fire. How do I get rid of the smell??

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Darren Nemeth
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My house had a nitrate fire. How do I get rid of the smell??

Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:04 pm

Earlier today 2,000 feet of silent era nitrate was blazing in my house.

I was able to clean up all the soot and other things associated with the fire but still have a bad nitric acid smell in my house.

What is the best way to get rid of that smell??

[please don't say burn the rest of the house down. :lol: ]

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Penfold
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Unread post by Penfold » Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:17 am

Sorry to hear that....I hope no-one was hurt, and nothing irreplacable lost....
I could use some digital restoration myself...

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Darren Nemeth
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Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:31 am

Penfold wrote:Sorry to hear that....I hope no-one was hurt, and nothing irreplacable lost....
The only thing irreplacable lost was the reel of film. It was home movies from an Erie, PA affluent family with date codes ranging from 1916 to 1928.

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Unread post by silentfilm » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:04 am

This may sound silly and obvious, but have you tried opening the windows in the room and setting up some fans to blow the smoke out? I know that the fire department does this to get the smokey smell out after a fire.

That's amazing that it caught fire at room temperature. It must have really been outgassing. Was it in a sealed can?

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Darren Nemeth
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Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:16 am

silentfilm wrote:This may sound silly and obvious, but have you tried opening the windows in the room and setting up some fans to blow the smoke out? I know that the fire department does this to get the smokey smell out after a fire.

That's amazing that it caught fire at room temperature. It must have really been out-gassing. Was it in a sealed can?
It was on my stove while baking a pizza pie.

I had the windows opened and fan blowing for 10 hours. Still I get the stench of nitric acid in my back room.

Lets see how it is in a couple of days but for now on I will never put ANY type of film next to a potential heat source ever again.

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Unread post by silent-partner » Thu Oct 23, 2008 6:22 am

I do say, wonderful sense of humor, everyone a round of applause.

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Jim Roots
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Unread post by Jim Roots » Thu Oct 23, 2008 6:38 am

Darren Nemeth wrote:
silentfilm wrote:This may sound silly and obvious, but have you tried opening the windows in the room and setting up some fans to blow the smoke out? I know that the fire department does this to get the smokey smell out after a fire.

That's amazing that it caught fire at room temperature. It must have really been out-gassing. Was it in a sealed can?
It was on my stove while baking a pizza pie.

You put a can of nitrate film on a hot stove. Geez, Darren, don't you feel sort of ... you know ... stupid? You of all people should know better than to do that!

How was the pizza, by the way?

Jim

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Unread post by Jay Salsberg » Thu Oct 23, 2008 6:47 am

That home movie didn't feature Lon Chaney with pointed teeth and a top hat, did it?

Jon Mirsalis is a chemist, isn't he? He'd probably know how to get rid of the smell.

I failed Chemistry, so take this for what it's worth. From what I remember, nitric acid smells sort-of like chlorine. Perhaps you could counteract the smell by sprinkling a base (i.e. baking soda) on the stinky bits.

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Darren Nemeth
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Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:04 pm

You put a can of nitrate film on a hot stove. Geez, Darren, don't you feel sort of ... you know ... stupid? You of all people should know better than to do that!

How was the pizza, by the way?

Jim
It was open reel standing upright. While the oven was warming up I opened a window, turned on the ceiling fan and felt around the stove. There were no hot spots at all so I let it be.

Just like when I recently cut the tip of my finger off with my table saw [detailed here http://batboat.blogspot.com/2008/10/bat ... er-19.html ] I was preoccupied with the thought of adding the shelves to the shelf I already had and there was film all over the place. Couldn't walk around without stepping over film.

No Lon Chaney footage was burnt but the fire was 6 feet away from reels 1 through 5 of PRIMROSE PATH starring Clara Bow that I was going to ship to UCLA this week to use for their complete restoration.

This all happened so fast. If it burned for a few more seconds a bunch of my fragments that were inches away would have been gone also.

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Darren Nemeth
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Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:30 pm

It was on my stove while baking a pizza pie.
How was the pizza, by the way?

Jim
I ate it just after I put the fire out and moved the other films away from the stove. It tasted good but the thin crust was slightly burnt.

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Unread post by Arndt » Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:54 pm

All of this must have caused quite a stir at that nudist camp where you live. Coming to think of it, that lifestyle must make you especially vulnerable when handling blazes!
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Darren Nemeth
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Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:20 pm

I'll post pictures later.

I'm making another pizza right now [bought a 3 thin crust pizza kit from my neice's school fundraiser] and it looks like the electric stove top burner where the nitrate was standing is where the oven vents out. :(

There isn't a film within 8 feet of the stove, BTW.

I don't know what would have been a greater loss if it was another film on the stove that burst into flames. The nitrate/diacetate home movies or the cans of original sound and picture negatives from 1955 beer commercials or the negs from a 1954 TV sports program next to it. :(

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Unread post by Frederica » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:23 pm

Darren Nemeth wrote:I'll post pictures later.

I'm making another pizza right now [bought a 3 thin crust pizza kit from my neice's school fundraiser] and it looks like the electric stove top burner where the nitrate was standing is where the oven vents out. :(
(
Darren, clearly you need more veggies in your diet. Raw veggies. :D

Fred
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Darren Nemeth
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Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:32 pm

Frederica wrote:
Darren Nemeth wrote:I'll post pictures later.

I'm making another pizza right now [bought a 3 thin crust pizza kit from my neice's school fundraiser] and it looks like the electric stove top burner where the nitrate was standing is where the oven vents out. :(
(
Darren, clearly you need more veggies in your diet. Raw veggies. :D

Fred
To be honest with you. I rarely eat cooked foods. Mostly fruits and veggies with chicken breasts cooked with my George Foreman grill over the sink. I've lived here for 5 years and cooked food on the stove maybe 8 or 9 times.

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Unread post by silent-partner » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:29 pm

Pizza + Beer = Good
Pizza + Beer + Nitrate film canister on stove = Not Good.

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Darren Nemeth
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Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:33 pm

silent-partner wrote:Pizza + Beer = Good
Pizza + Beer + Nitrate film canister on stove = Not Good.
I hadn't had a drink since Saturday! I opened three bottles 10 + hours after the fire, however.

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Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Tue Nov 04, 2008 1:26 am

Here are the photos I took moments after the fire was out....

This is the the back room where I had to drop the flaming reel. The door is to the right and what used to be my waste basket is to the left.

Leaning on the trash basket was about fifteen Priority Mail boxes. Everything was aflame in the several seconds it took me to grab the mop.

Image




I had to push the reel further out from the house and went back inside to grab the trash and burning boxes. All were completely ablaze a safe 15 ft away from the house.

Image




The 2000 ft reel of nitrate and diacetate and what was left of my trash.

Image




From another angle.

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To the right, is a charred trail of film left behind by the burning reel as I pushed it further from the house. On the steps is a guitar amp I had just bought a couple weeks earlier and some of the burnt boxes.

The lawn is still scorched.

Image




I bought this amp at the Saginaw County auction for $23. It was part of a Sheriff Department seisure and was in excellent condition. But as you can see here the side was singed and cable burnt.

I can still gut it out and use the speaker for my projector. :wink:

Image




The above oven fan filter was burnt badly. The oven where the fire started is in the background along with other nitrate that is now on the new shelving.

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Unread post by Richard P. May » Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:59 am

Darren's photos should be widely circulated to demonstrate that nitrate film is not something to fool around with.
Dick May

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Film Next To Stove

Unread post by edwardjurich » Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:19 am

I assume the stack of film next to the stove in the picture is safety film :roll:

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Darren Nemeth
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Re: Film Next To Stove

Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:39 am

edwardjurich wrote:I assume the stack of film next to the stove in the picture is safety film :roll:
Nitrate fragments from the turn of the century to the early sound era, inches from the burning reel. Nothing was damaged and is on the new shelf.
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Unread post by edwardjurich » Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:20 pm

By the way, if the smell does not go away you may have to wash down the ceiling and walls. I recall a certain kind of soap used after fires to wash down ceilings and walls but forgot the name.

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Unread post by radiotelefonia » Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:35 pm

Too bad for the films.

At least, it wasn't a major damage in your house, according to the photos.

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Unread post by edwardjurich » Tue Nov 04, 2008 4:41 pm

Flax soap is what I was thinking of. Here is a link for some cleaning hints.

http://www.ennispublicsafety.net/FIRE/a ... a_fire.htm

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Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:26 pm

edwardjurich wrote:Flax soap is what I was thinking of. Here is a link for some cleaning hints.

http://www.ennispublicsafety.net/FIRE/a ... a_fire.htm
Thanks for the link.

Moments after the fire I went to Lowes and bough a gallon of Krudd Kuter (around $17 for a gallon).

I smoothed some on the floor and later that night the charred tile was cleared. :shock:

Within 4 or 5 days the smell was completely gone which is good because I rent my house!! :lol:
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Unread post by Darren Nemeth » Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:08 pm

If you are going to collect old nitrate just remember a few things.

Don't put them near any kind of heat source. Especially those that puts out more than 100 degrees.

If you smell any thing unusual, stop everything. You and your house are NOT Superman. Move that reel to another part of the room.

Keep them on a shelf where they will get air circulation.

Never keep anything in a can and NEVER put them on an oven while cooking a pizza pie.

That 2000 foot reel would have most likely been part of an HD extra and given to an archive. Now it is gone forever.

If you want to have nitrate in your home, keep it in the open air and nowhere near a source of direct or indirect heat!

Learning my first hand lesion, I think it is nothing short of a meracle that so many films from the nitrate era survive to this day.
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Unread post by radiotelefonia » Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:52 pm

Darren Nemeth wrote:If you are going to collect old nitrate just remember a few things.

Don't put them near any kind of heat source. Especially those that puts out more than 100 degrees.

If you smell any thing unusual, stop everything. You and your house are NOT Superman. Move that reel to another part of the room.

Keep them on a shelf where they will get air circulation.

Never keep anything in a can and NEVER put them on an oven while cooking a pizza pie.

That 2000 foot reel would have most likely been part of an HD extra and given to an archive. Now it is gone forever.

If you want to have nitrate in your home, keep it in the open air and nowhere near a source of direct or indirect heat!

Learning my first hand lesion, I think it is nothing short of a meracle that so many films from the nitrate era survive to this day.
The late Roberto Di Chiara had almost all of his nitrate films in a very isolated place almost quite afar from civilization.

The fate of those films is uncertain. However, his sons inherited it.

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