If you saw the images on social media this week you might be wondering what caused the fire outside Palmer Sea Golf Course on Sunday. How could a fire start in a garden bed and why did the Fire Service have to stand by watching as it burned?
The simple answer… it was an electrical fire that started in the cables underneath a turret in the garden. What is a turret you ask? The green box you find at the front of your house otherwise known as a pillar box as per the photos below.
Why the green box?
Turrets are the reason we no longer have overhead power poles and cabling all down our streets. Much safer if a cyclone visits as there are no poles or cabling to hit your house and a better chance your power will still be running after it passes. While most of the cables are run deep underground there are times when they need to be accessed by your electricity provider (i.e. Ergon in the Port Douglas Area) for repairs or upgrades. The turrets serve as regular access points.
How would a fire start here?
An electrical fire would usually start when exposed cables touch or water ingresses into cabling. (We all know water and electricity do not mix!) All electrical cable is covered with insulating plastic to protect them from touching each other. Unfortunately for some reason the bugs in the tropics love to chew the plastic. If they chew far enough down they expose the cabling. Two cables lying alongside each other both exposed are then able to touch.
Why did the Fire Service have to stand by and watch?
As an electrical fire they cannot put it out with water. Although there are other substances they can use on an electrical fire, if the power is still running through the cables they put themselves in extreme danger by going anywhere near it. They needed to wait until Ergon arrived to disconnect the power before they could proceed. Electricity is very unpredictable and must be treated with extreme caution. You can see from the featured image what a mess the fire made of all the cabling. All of this had to be repaired and made safe before Ergon was able to restore power to the property.
What has this got to do with you?
We all have green turrets in our front yards but for the most part they really are nothing you need to worry about. They are designed to keep you safe from their dangerous contents, but they have less chance of doing this when they are lodged from their foundations or develop a large crack letting water through. Here’s a list a things to keep in mind…
- It’s not the best idea to use it as a seat while chatting with your neighbour.
- It’s not something your kids should be playing on.
- They are not the most attractive feature in your garden but burying them in mulch or covering them with plants will only encourage bugs to make a home there.
- There may be times when one of these boxes gets damaged or given a little nudge accidentally you should always get an electrician to check its safety if you do.
- Keep an eye on the condition of the box and get your electrician to remove the lid to check over the joins every couple of years.
Contact us if you would like us to check your turret