One of my favourite memories of our son when he was very young was of him running down the street shouting “My bottom’s on fire”. I mention this anecdote as I had to think of it after my latest mishap. A few days ago, whilst I was sitting at my computer, I began to smell something burning. It was that typical electrical burning smell you get from burning bits of plastic. I assumed it came from outside, so went to the window to check if I could see anything. At that point the smell had disappeared and I realised the fire must by inside. As the first wisps of smoke came out of one of the computers I came to the sad conclusion that the fire was rather closer to hand. After quickly unplugging the PC, I checked inside to see one of the cables alight. Fortunately I could blow out the flame and disaster was averted.
The actual cable is a PATA to SATA power converter, used to power a DVD burner. Looking at the charred remains I assume it had somehow shorted out, overheated and caught fire (see pic below for the gory details). From memory I believe I got this cable as part of a PC case I bought. The burnt PC is actually an old one I put together in 2008, so I guess the fault component just failed with age.
After recovering from the shock, what have I learnt from this experience:
- Even in the 21st century luck still plays an important part in our lives. I was VERY unlucky that my cable failed, but I was VERY lucky that I was sitting at the PC at the time.
- It’s time to check the smoke alarms and install a new alarm in our “Home Office” room
- I probably need to be more careful about leaving PCs (and any other electronics) powered on when we’re not at home.
- It’s probably time to invest some money in an automated cloud backup solution (even though it’s tempting to be cheap and just make a copy of everything to a cheap USB disk !). Once I’ve something in place I’ll let you know.