Holy Puck - I almost burned the house down!!

Started by gdoily, August 26, 2007, 08:53:22 AM

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Put two butts and two briskets in the SS bradley last night at 6 PM.  Loaded 24 bisquettes and commenced to smoking.  Before bed at 11, dumped the used pucks and reloaded the water bowl.  Temp right at 170 and climbing slowly to my final setting of around 190-200.

Got up early this morning and stumbled through the house to check on things.  Looked out the window in the dining room and thought "hmmm - it is very foggy out this morning."  Made the turn into the kitchen and saw through the window white smoke boiling out of the Bradley.  Ran out and unplugged it.  The door was "huffing" open every few seconds with a big puff of smoke and flame.  Closed the vent down to barely open and held the door shut until the temp started dropping in the box.  Finally opened up and grabbed the smoldering bowl and extinguished with water. 

Damage:  Meat ruined obviously.  Half of my door gasket is melted.  Don't know how much "burned odor" will reside in smoker. 

Problem:  Looked like the pucks stacked up out of the water and caught fire.  Only had at most 10 coming through the burner unless I miss counted when loading. 

Good News:  I didn't burn the house down.  The smoker was on the back porch which has a tongue and groove ceiling.  Fortunately no flames beyond smoker.

This is my 3rd overnight smoke and I haven't had any previous problems.  Guess I had too many pucks to burn yet, or they all got dumped in at once, piled up and smoldered until they burned.  Won't ever overnight on the porch again. 

Any other suggestions?  The walls are pretty scorched.  At the very least I am going to have to buy a new gasket. 

Mr Walleye


Good thing you discovered it when you did!

I have done allot of over nighters as well. I think if you are going to run 24 bisquettes through you should be using a tin foil roaster pan for a water bowl. 24 spent pucks will absorb a fair bit of water and create a good size pile in the water bowl. The pile of spent pucks would eventually be high enough to cause the pucks to not extinguish properly. Add to this the V-pan dripping grease on the pucks which were not extinguished and you will have fire. This is probably what caused it. I never use more than 4 hours of smoke time which is 12 pucks. When I do an over night smoke I time my cook so that just before I go to bed the smoke portion is complete. I then change the water in the bowl. From this point on when doing things like butts I rarely have to add any more water for the rest of the cook because the butt seems to drip fat into the water bowl which puts a layer of grease on the top of the water which slows the evaporation.

I would give Bradley a call and see if they will fix you up with some parts for the repair.


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IMHO meat generally will not absorb any more smoke than 4 hours worth.  Any further smoke would be a waste of pucks and could make the meat have an ash flavor.  I hope you can repair the BS without too much problem.
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I see most around here limit smoke to 4-6 hours...I have been experimenting to see what I like best.

Fully understand the part about too many pucks for the water bowl - that is why I dumped used pucks and changed water before bed.  As mentioned, I should have had only 9 or 10 at very most pucks left, which one would think shouldn't cause this problem. 

Is there any other possible cause?? ??? ???

Mr Walleye

Hopefull some others will chime in here but I can't think of any other cause. I really believe that you should always make sure the smoke is done and the water bowl is fress & full before hitting the hay on over night smokes.

The only other thing I've seem here was someone had installed their V-pan upside down which of course would run all the drippings onto the heating element.


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Could have been a rare grease/fat fire from drippings onto heat element?

Wow! 24 pucks! 4 hours of smoke should be ok even for two butts, i know the taste is a personal thing, but as already mentioned the meat probably wouldn't absorb 24 pucks worth of smoke.

Sorry to hear of the mishap, hopefully you'll get away with a new door seal and a thorough clean up, might be worth just checking the wiring over etc, just to be on the safe side ;)

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If the pucks had stack up like you described, then I would have to say that Mike is right. Also if those pucks in the water bowl dry out, and have a constant heat source by touching the heating pad and grease dripping on them, then the pucks will catch fire also. The fuel in the pucks is not totally consumed. It is best to wait until the smoking is completed, before retiring for the night.

Twelve pucks is about the limit for the bowl to hold without them piling up, nine should not have been a problem. Unless, as you have mentioned, something when wrong with the generator and it pushed all those pucks through without them spending any time on the heat source.



Thanks for the responses and ideas...

The pucks were what were clearly on fire - likely had some grease involved, but when I opened the door they were piled right up to the plate on the generator.  Took the bowl out to the yard and doused it to kill the fire.  My son is a chef and came in at 2 am from work - said everything was fine and temps were 190 - still smoking.  I am guessing either the water dried up completely and the pucks reignited or some of the pucks didn't get a complete burn (moved off too quickly) and piled up.  Took a while, but the pile of them really got going.

Anyway, no doubt I will not go to bed in the future with the Bradley running unless at the very least the pucks are burned.  Most likely will move it out from under the porch also.



At least you and your family are ok. Whenever i smoke i only use 1 to 6  pucks

When i do a long smoke i use a foil cake pan for my water bowl, like the 9x15 or smaller ones.



Only thought I can add is to make sure the drip pan is peak down with the hole over the bowl.  I think the volume of spent pucks, together with the pork fat provided a good fuel source close to the heat.  Glad you avoided the big loss.


Yikes  :o :o

Sounds like all the answers I may include are covered already.  Sorry about the disaster.

Depending on your total cook time needed, when I do a butt or brisket, I set a timer for early morning (like 3am) and when I get up, the pucks are just about finished and I have never been late for supper.

Just one way to cut down on the un-supervised time of the Bradley.
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(Richard Prior running around with hair on fire) :D ;D :o
Seriously though I'm very glad it didn't turn into a disaster for you. Hope the Bradley can be fixed back up without to much trouble or cost. Take care.
Pat and Ann


Scary stuff! Glad nothing more serious happened. Have to agree with most here, no need to use so many pucks.