StillDragon® Community Forum


Be part of our community & join our international next generation forum now!

In this Discussion

Distillery Fire

edited April 2015 in General

2 hurt in distillery fire in western Kentucky @ WLWT

This can't be good for you guys trying to get passed by the authorities.

StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand



  • Terrible to see that, prayers go out. Hopefully they can recover from the injuries and the loss. Can't believe nothing is left.

  • That really sucks. These are EXACTLY the kind of people that we want to succeed. Hope insurance covers it.

  • I think anyone starting today should be increasing their construction and equipment budgets to account for a greater level of safety. Even if you are able to get a lesser approach by your local authorities, it's the insurers that are going to be looking at this with greater levels of scrutiny. More requirements, more scrutiny, more denials, higher premiums. Probably more lawsuits too...

  • I'd love to know what still fault could cause a fire.
    I can only imagine electrical immersion heating elements being left on or cooling water failure resulting in hot vapour escaping. Stills down here have a flow switch interlock on cooling water but no low level or high temperature interlocks that I'm aware of.

    An element density of 12 watts per square inch will result in a sheath temp of 840F. A low level kill switch is sounding like a good idea.

  • edited April 2015

    A word about safety and gear setup. This comes direct from a long time reputable worldwide still manufacture & deployment company, APV (contact at page bottom)...


    Essentially, there are three types of electronic control systems.

    1. conventional electronic instruments
    2. electronic systems with all field devices explosion proof
    3. intrinsically safe electronic systems

    The need to have a clear understanding of the differences is important.

    Most distillation duties involve at least one flammable liquid which is being processed in both the vapor and liquid phases. Since there always is the possibility of a leak of liquid or vapor, particularly from pump seals, it is essential for complete safety that there be no source of ignition in the vicinity of the equipment. While many instruments such as controllers and alarms can be located in a control room removed from the process, all local electronic instruments must be either explosion proof or intrinsically safe. With explosion proof equipment, electrical devices and wiring are protected by boxes or conduit which will contain any explosion that may occur. With intrinsically safe equipment, barriers limit the transmission of electrical energy to such a low level that it is not possible to generate a spark. Since explosion proof boxes and conduits are not required, wiring costs are reduced. For any intrinsically safe system to be accepted for insurance purposes, FM (Factory Mutual) or CSA (Canadian Standards Association) approval usually must be obtained. This approval applies to a combination of barriers and field devices. Therefore, when a loop incorporates such instruments from different manufacturers, it is essential to ensure that approval has been obtained for the combination of instruments.

    APV Crepaco Inc
    Executive and International Headquarters
    9525 West Bryn Mawr Ave., Rosemont, IL 60018
    Engineering and Manufacturing
    395 Fillmore Ave., Tonawanda, NY 14150
    (708) 678-4300 FAX: (708) 678-4407
    (716) 692-3000 FAX: (716) 692-1715
    Sales Offices:
    Charlotte, NC/(704) 376-0209 Chicago (Rosemont), IL/(708) 678-4300
    Columbus, OH/(614) 846-6415 Dallas (Irving), Texas/(214) 257-3455
    Los Angeles (Cerritos), CA/(213) 926-9700 Minneapolis, MN/(612) 544-8731
    Mt. Laurel, NJ/(609) 235-6800 - Nashville, TN/(615) 255-0342
    Metropolitan New York (Montvale, NJ)/(201) 930-0001
    Salt Lake City, UT/(801) 262-8494 Seattle, WA/(206) 575-8900
    APV Canada, Inc. - Toronto/(416) 850-1852

  • The Distillery in question, used propane as a heat source. They have photos although hard to find, of the propane lines under a custom square tank. There are photos of the owner applying paste to seal cracks. I get the old age style that alot of people are going for, but this was operator error, not equipment malfunction.

  • edited April 2015

    You only need 3 things - Alcohol Vapor, Oxygen, and an Ignition Source.

    • Alcohol Vapor - Check - Equipment failure is all it takes
    • Oxygen - Check - As long as you can breathe, it's there
    • Ignition Sources - One of the few things we have control over
  • Yeah, I saw that picture a little earlier. Some pretty poor design choices. Too many episodes of Moonshiners perhaps.

    Thanks for the post @Harry, I'm looking at gear at the moment and trying to figure out the safety side of the 4 x 18kW heating elements.

  • edited April 2015

    @TheMechWarrior - Are you guys ATEX down there?

  • edited April 2015

    I take your cringe worthy and raise you a WTF.

    Silver Trail Distillery's Cover Photos @ Facebook

  • edited April 2015

    Yeah there is another picture with all sorts of electronics, wall mount heater, and a hot water heater just a few feet away. Bet both the heater units have contact relays that will arc.

  • @grim, we are IECEx, not ATEX.

    AU went EU rather than US.

    ATEX to IECEx certification is possible for about $1,500 each, generally though it's cheaper to go IECEx from the start unless you have no choice or you get a great deal on some ATEX gear.

  • I feel sorry for the poor people in hospital right now, the before and after photos of the place are a little scary.

  • edited April 2015

    It would be good if there were a forensic analysis of what happened with conclusions presented to all. Much like how the airline industry treats crashes.

    I feel sorry for those who were injured. However, the failure of a few reflects badly on us all, and invites even more nanny-state governmental interference to "protect" us from ourselves.

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

  • edited April 2015

    Factory Mutual Property Loss Data Sheet 7-74 and the DISCUS Fire Protection Practices Manual are pretty much the two closest documents, they are largely sets of recommendations based on the forensic analysis of distillery accidents. The DISCUS document does include the relevant details of a large number of distillery fires (who, where, what, how). It's interesting, but not so relevant to the small distiller (grain malting fires, stillage dryer fires, lightning hitting rick houses, etc).

    I suspect that most won't like those documents, because they both prescribe significant levels of protection (Hazardous occupancies, etc). Not just sprinklers, but separate buildings, classified electrics, deflagration venting construction, etc, etc. Probably pretty easy to put every craft distiller out of business.

    The problem isn't that the nanny state will try to protect us from ourselves, it's that we become the big bad enemy, and the nanny state will try to protect everyone else FROM US, the worst possible outcome.

  • This is the distillery that was the "legal" distillery that the guy from "moonshiners" visited and his paperwork was in a back room in a pile. So they were ON moonshiners . lol side note: I did all of our federal and state paperwork (NY state no less) and didn't have 1/80th of the pile of paperwork that was shown on the show. I think that was a fire hazard in itself.

  • oh and "my dad was a rum runner in the 50's"..... Little Chicago is not impressed.

  • but seriously. I hope everyone recovers. Good luck to them.

  • @MikeAggie said: I take your cringe worthy and raise you a WTF.

    Silver Trail Distillery's Cover Photos @ Facebook

    That photo in itself should have been a red flag. Some things just don't carry over well from backwoods to professional. Paste has got to be at the top of the list.....

  • It's tough to form a good opinion as we're not there and don't know how the people are running their rig on a daily basis. However, the pics seem to suggest that there's a lot of combustible materials around the (open flame) still. Also, I didn't see a single extinguisher in any photo.

    I'm not sure if going the other extreme (everything intrinsically safe) is the right answer but it seems that all the articles that I've seen about distillery fires seem to suggest open flames. That's why I wanted to go all electric or BM plus I have always 2 extinguishers on hand...

  • edited April 2015

    Do you guys want me to post something up on intrinsic safety as it applies to temperature monitoring and controls on a still?

    It's easier than you think. We did it on our controls and RTDs. Probably only applicable to the pro guys, not sure why anyone else would go through the effort.

  • post it. Even you can Prevent a Distillery fire....(Drunky the Bear)

  • I bet we find out, or hear through the grapevine, that they left the still unattended or were doing something else really not smart....

    That will not be what the officials hear, though, they will l hear 'unlisted/uncertified equipment' you know what will happen? Our equipment will need to be 'certified' assemblies... bye-bye SD equipment as we know it if this happens.... get ready to have to by a vendome/kothe/carl, no 'homemade' or 'modular' equipment allowed....

  • Blast injures two at legal Kentucky moonshine distillery @ Yahoo News

    More information than most of the other articles ...

  • edited April 2015

    You wake up in the middle of the night in your house, you smell gas. The one thing you never do? Turn on the lights. You get the hell out, and you do it in the dark. Why? Because the tiny arc inside the light switch will ignite the gas and blow you up.

    When they opened the door, something happened. Someone flicked a switch, an automatic light went on, a cold wind hit the thermostat and the heat kicked on, etc. The place must have been full of vapor at that point.

    Never, ever, ever let a still run unattended. Ever.

  • @grim said: he place must have been full of vapor at that point.

    Installing extraction fans with intakes at floor level to remove any alcohol vapours seems like a good move, or perhaps just forced ventilation through the building to eliminate the potential for vapour buildup.

  • Stranahan's was a knee wall around their spirit stills and tanks. With air ducts drawing air at the floor level. Best I've seen!

    DAD... not yours.. ah, hell... I don't know...

  • edited April 2015

    NFPA 497 - Recommended Practice for the Classification of Flammable Liquids, Gases, or Vapors and of Hazardous (Classified) Locations for Electrical Installations in Chemical Process Areas

    Definition of "Adequate Ventilation":

    A ventilation rate that affords six air changes per hour, 1 cfm per square foot of floor area (0.3 m3/min/m2), or other similar criterion that prevents the accumulation of significant quantities of vapor-air concentrations from exceeding 25 percent of the lower flammable limit (LFL).

  • Just read, unfortunately that they were burned on 80% of their bodies. Used to work at the burn unit at Shands in Gainesville. 80% is an almost guaranteed death sentence. Hope someone got the % wrong.

Sign In or Register to comment.