Mysterious Rocks Catch Fire in Womans Pocket?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by Tackleberry1, Jun 19, 2012.

  1. Tackleberry1

    Tackleberry1 New Member

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    Anyone Else hear about this? San Clemente CA Womans suffers 3rd degree burns after rocks found on the beach spontaniosly combust in her pocket.

    The woman in question happens to be my wife's step sister and tells us the rocks were rather flat, about 4" diameter, and orange and green in color. I have a theory and and wondering in any former Naval Gunners or Artillery Men can back me up.

    My theory is that these "rocks" are actually the phosphorus remains of Artillery Tracer Rounds fired into the pacific for training either from Naval Ships or from shore batteries during WWII. I'm thinking it's possible that tracer rounds hit the water before fully burning thier tracer charge extinguishing the charge. Some 70+ years later, unburnt tracer charges, having separated from the shell upon impact and settling to the sea floor are now finally washing ashore with enough of a saline coating to prevent ignition upon contacting air. However, bounce them around in a cargo pocket long enough you chip off enough saline crust to allow air to reach the phosphorus spontaneously igniting the poor Womans shorts...

    Thoughts?

    Tack

    http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_...fornia-womans-pocket-causing-third?refresh=no
     
  2. winds-of-change

    winds-of-change The Balota's Staff Member

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    Very interesting. I hope the woman and her husband will be okay. Third degree burns are pretty darned serious.

    Please keep us posted as to any follow up to this. I'm interested.
     

  3. Tackleberry1

    Tackleberry1 New Member

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    Quite serious, skin grafts and physical therapy for the foreseeable future. My wife is contemplating a trip south to check on her.
     
  4. Tackleberry1

    Tackleberry1 New Member

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    Shamless bump...there's got to be some artillery knowledgable guys here who can tell me if my theory is sound?
     
  5. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    Tack- dunno what that was, but tracers do not need air to burn- they have their own oxygen chemically combined.

    There ARE flares used as infrared decoys for aircraft. Have been in the place in Texas that makes them. THOSE self ignite when exposed to air- and burn REALLY hot. (They are made and packaged in a zero oxygen atmosphere, BTW) Modern day, not WW 2.

    Here is a C-130 punching off flares and chaff. Anti-aircraft missiles lock onto flares instead of plane (if ur lucky)

    C-130%20Flares1024.jpg
     
  6. Tackleberry1

    Tackleberry1 New Member

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    Ahh...good to know. We had an F15 from Pang Air Base at PDX hit the Pacific nose first a few years back. Pilot was doing a loop and apparently thought he had enough altitude...spatial disorientation, I think it's called. No pieces bigger than a few inches square were ever found.

    I suppose they could be similar AA flares from a modern crash like this.

    I know, I'm reaching but I'd like to figure this out.
     
  7. gunnovice09

    gunnovice09 New Member

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    Sounds like she picked up pure sodium (Na) possibly. I remember in science when I was in school and they put pure sodium in water and man it is a show it ignites and blows up a little. And no pure sodium isn't table salt
     
  8. Tackleberry1

    Tackleberry1 New Member

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    Hmm...these "rocks" were found on the beach...pretty sure they would have contacted water naturally and ignited long before they were found.
     
  9. Durangokid

    Durangokid New Member

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    Could be the rocks were very hard Chert. They caused a spark that set off the contents of the pocket like lint. May be the pocket linner was a very flamable cloth of some kind. She may have had some tissue or alcohol based vapor rub.:confused:
     
  10. Tackleberry1

    Tackleberry1 New Member

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    Doubt it. This was my wifes step sister. Normal cargo shorts and no other accelerants involved. I'm fairly convinced this is phosphorus based military propellant of some kind. Unspent rocket motors, anti missle flares, unburnt tracer charge or something like that.
     
  11. orangello

    orangello New Member

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    Maybe hand sanitizer?
     
  12. Chandler51

    Chandler51 New Member

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    Any chance it was potassium? It reacts with water in the manner you described, IIRC.

    Edit...

    I've heard of it reacting with sweat.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2012
  13. cvia

    cvia New Member

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    From what I heard on the radio that's not the only person to be burned by one of these rocks. We have or had a warning here in VA not to pick up rocks on the beach.
     
  14. orangello

    orangello New Member

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    Some crackhead out there is dreaming of a rock to light his pipe. :p
     
  15. alsaqr

    alsaqr Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The orange color tells me its white phosphorous from an artillery round. Exposed white phosporous forms an orange colored crust that cuts off air. Without air WP will not burn. Break that crust and the WP ignites. When WP burns it smells like the burning heads of kitchen matches.

    For years i was the senior firing range/EOD advisor to the Saudi National Guard. A few times we saw smoking camels hauling across the desert at warp speed: They had parked on some WP, the crust broke, the WP ignited and set that long winter coat on fire. i've seen vehicle tires catch on fire from WP on the range.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2012
  16. Durangokid

    Durangokid New Member

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    Alsaqr was smoking Camels bad for you?:D