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Old 07-21-2016, 12:53 PM   #1
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Battery Fire While Towing

We were towing our 2012 Wildcat Sterling 29mk on our way home from vacation and the battery caught fire. The damage was contained to the "basement" and we were able to put it out thanks to a good samaritan waving us off the road. The damage was significant to the basement, slide hydraulics and wiring and only smoke in the interior. Has anyone else had or heard of anything similar happening? Also any advice on things to make sure we don't miss?

thanks Jeff
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Old 07-21-2016, 11:11 PM   #2
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Any idea what caused it? Any obvious wire failure? I'm thinking a poorly crimped lug coming undone causing wire to slip out of connection and short against the frame.

If that is what happened, catastrophic fuses may have prevented this event and why I recommend and use them on all of my campers.

Good luck and please let us know what insurance company will do.
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Old 07-21-2016, 11:33 PM   #3
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more specific info needed...

battery type? lead-acid? was it restrained and in a battery box?

did the battery burn or was it surrounding stuff overheated from a shorted wire from the battery?

battery fires happen alot to Lithium-ion lately...
I had a lead-acid explode on me some 30 years ago... but not catch fire.
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Old 07-22-2016, 06:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyD View Post
Any idea what caused it? Any obvious wire failure? I'm thinking a poorly crimped lug coming undone causing wire to slip out of connection and short against the frame.

If that is what happened, catastrophic fuses may have prevented this event and why I recommend and use them on all of my campers.

Good luck and please let us know what insurance company will do.

.... I will definitely ask for that to be installed if repaired, as far as cause nothing obvious was found. Jeff
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Old 07-22-2016, 06:52 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsdata View Post
more specific info needed...

battery type? lead-acid? was it restrained and in a battery box?

did the battery burn or was it surrounding stuff overheated from a shorted wire from the battery?

battery fires happen alot to Lithium-ion lately...
I had a lead-acid explode on me some 30 years ago... but not catch fire.
It was lead acid, it was in battery box when we stopped it fell out the bottom of the trailer, it was 50-60% burned and flaming at that time. All the wiring was to the right of battery as your facing it and we have never stored anything in that area. Jeff
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Old 07-22-2016, 06:56 AM   #6
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.... I will definitely ask for that to be installed if repaired, as far as cause nothing obvious was found. Jeff
Nothing obvious? Did the fire appear to be inside the battery or the
surrounding wiring??
What did your insurance adjuster have to say?

This is rare as far as just my opinion from reading this group and it's not
often we hear about something like this- thankfully
We're really curious for more details, photos etc...
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Old 07-22-2016, 06:59 AM   #7
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My goodness! Scary to the max.

I have nothing to offer to help........out of my baliwick......but I do want to read this and see if you figured out what happened. This might be a very helpful thread for all of us.
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Old 07-22-2016, 07:04 AM   #8
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It is very unusual for a lead-acid battery to burn. It is more likely a short causing the wiring to catch fire. Was there anything loose in the battery box that could short the terminals?
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Old 07-22-2016, 07:13 AM   #9
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Never seen a lead acid battery on fire, nothing to burn really, seen quite a few explode though. I would surmise that it was a dead short near the battery because wire covering burns good.
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Old 07-22-2016, 07:15 AM   #10
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Wow, this is a new and rare one! Must've been a cable that came off and got shorted to metal by the battery.
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Old 07-22-2016, 07:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KyDan View Post
Nothing obvious? Did the fire appear to be inside the battery or the
surrounding wiring??
What did your insurance adjuster have to say?

This is rare as far as just my opinion from reading this group and it's not
often we hear about something like this- thankfully
We're really curious for more details, photos etc...
by the time i saw it there was 1/2 of battery left none of the box was left only the main battery wires were burned through......but quite a few things had also burned plastic water jugs, a bucket carpet ect..... Insurance company has not sent adjuster And based on conversation i am not sure they will we're waiting on dealer to give us an estimate to turn in its been 2 weeks today. these are the only 2 photos i have on my phone have more at home maybe they will be more helpful.
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Old 07-22-2016, 07:45 AM   #12
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Those photos sure look scary! I'm sorry this happened to you but I'm glad it doesn't look like a total loss.

Make sure everything works perfectly after it is repaired. It'd be easy for a repair shop to forget a wire that might have been completely obliterated in the fire.

Check all components run by the hydraulic system. Make sure dealership repairs aren't done half-arse, e.g. spicing wires together with nothing but electrical tape (I've seen this before)

I personally wouldn't trust a dealership to do the repair and if you have the ability, please consider a repair yourself. At least you'll know it was done correctly and not rushed.

After I installed 2 additional battery banks in my storage area, I also installed a couple of fire extinguishers as as precaution.

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Old 07-22-2016, 07:46 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by DDC View Post
Never seen a lead acid battery on fire, nothing to burn really, seen quite a few explode though. I would surmise that it was a dead short near the battery because wire covering burns good.

Trust me they burn LOL.... base on all the research i seeing it looks as though a short is what caused it! Jeff
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Old 07-22-2016, 01:28 PM   #14
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What size should be used? I have a 30amp shore connection and 2 - 6v batteries on a 33ft TT. Not sure how to size it.
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Old 07-23-2016, 02:30 PM   #15
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In addition to a short causing a fire, a battery in thermal runaway can start on fire. Heat is generated in the battery during charging and thermal runaway occurs when the battery generates more internal heat than it can dissipate. Thermal runaway can lead to meltdown of the battery and can also cause electrical fires and/or battery explosions.

Signs of early stage thermal runaway can be more water usage than normal, cell-to-cell voltage variation, and increased battery temperature. Cell specific gravity can give you an indication of cell-to-cell voltage variation if you can't measure cell voltage directly.

VLRA batteries have a bigger problem with thermal runaway but it does occur in wet cell lead acid batteries.

Here are a couple of links describing thermal runaway:

http://www.alber.com/Docs/Brochure_W...er_Thermal.pdf

What is Thermal Runaway? - Sure Power, Inc
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Old 07-23-2016, 03:07 PM   #16
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Per these articles, thermal runaway seems to be tied to too much charging current. Hard to believe a TT being pulled down the road could have too much charging current. Most TV's can barely put enough current to a TT battery to do any charging at all.

Seems like something else is going on, like a short of some kind, IMHO.
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Old 07-25-2016, 09:55 PM   #17
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Thermal runaway can happen due to high charging current or when the float voltage is set too high. But it can also occur on a battery being float charged at the correct voltage. We run 60 cell 130vdc battery strings where I work for backup power. The batteries are wet cell batteries similar to a car/rv battery but significantly larger. I have seen many battery strings start the thermal runaway process as they approach end-of-life and I have seen a few strings start thermal runaway early in their life. These batteries see load for much less than 1% of their life and are on float voltage the other 99+% of their life. As the thermal runaway process starts we see increased water usage, charging current (float) will start to increase, and battery temperature will increase. The increased temperature causes the increased charging current which causes the temperature to increase and on and on until something fails.

I don't know if jfurg75's battery experienced thermal runaway, this is just another possible failure mechanism depending on how much charging current can be supplied by the TV. In my experience, failure from thermal runaway does not occur instantly. It takes a few weeks to get to the point we replace the batteries. However, if the batteries are not taken out of service, temperature will eventually start to increase exponentially and failure will occur quickly.

Because I have seen thermal runaway occur, I personally pay attention to a battery that starts using more water than in the past. I use an inexpensive clamp on ammeter to track charging current when the batteries are being float charged and watch for increasing current. The clamp on ammeter also comes in handy for checking electric brakes and checking loads on the RV battery.
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Old 07-25-2016, 10:09 PM   #18
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Problem

Sorry about the loss but you need to get a lawyer for representation. Do not expect a magnanimous response from the company. JMHO
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Old 08-02-2016, 09:03 AM   #19
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UPDATE: For the curious! FINALLY got all the estimates together.... $11,500 in damage! more than i had anticipated, the cleaning alone however is close to 3000! Will keep you updated as the process progresses were submitting the estimates to the insurance company today!
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Old 10-13-2016, 01:03 PM   #20
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...... 12 weeks out!

So insurance company paid, dealer 8 weeks ago said parts were being ordered... Picked up un repaired fiver on tuesday from dealer and we are embarking on repairing ourselves! SMH this has been one of those experiences a friend said you should have let it go he may have been right!
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