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View Full Version : Disastrous end to what was a great week wild camping.



runnach
19-10-2013, 21:42
Left Applecross 010.00hrs, this morning, no hurry to get home for around late afternoon.

Stopped at Glen Garry for lunch, forestry car park, same spot we spent our first night heading north. We bought venison burgers, which we had, went down a treat. Mrs R was preparing crepes, I was outside van with dog, kicking a ball about.

While outside, near to rear of van, I noticed wafts of black smoke from rear cooker vent, I thought, uh-oh, burnt crepes!! Then loud shouts from Bea, we're on fire!!! :scared:

I rushed in, acrid smoke billowing from around fridge/gas ring area, I immediately got Bea out of van, then isolated all gas valves at front of cooking/kitchen area, then turned off gas bottle valve.

Back inside, removed drawers under sink, lots more acrid smoke, removed grill that kettle/pans rest on, I could see flames throw a small hole. I grabbed extinguisher, barely managed to get enough dry powder through small hole to extinguish flames I could see!!

BTW, what a bloody mess dry powder makes!

Still fair bit of acrid smoke, I commenced removal of top fridge vent, only to find, alloy sheet preventing access to what would be top of fridge, sheet was held by self tappers, which I removed. Then removed alloy cover, which was also sealed with mastic.

Flames were out, smoked eventually cleared, but I was still not happy, my view was limited, I then proceeded to remove screws hold sink/two burner rings in place, it is a one piece setup. Wee prob, I would need to remove drain and overflow pipe from sink, which looked a hassle, but managed to lift stainless unit far enough to see no more flame, thankfully!

We sat for a while, basic fire watch techniques, I also used this time to see if I could ascertain why the underside of two ring burner/top of fridge, went on fire.

A three way fridge, which was running on gas when this happened, 12v, use to work, but packed in ages ago, plus was never that great when it did work. Both 12/240v switches set at OFF.

It appears wiring around both switches went on fire, why, I have no clue at this time. I do have a theory, possibly some of the flame from burner that was on, managed to leak through to underside, setting fire to cable??

What did I learn here?

Extinguisher was out of date, I barely managed to get enough powder out to put out fire before it pegged out. My fault for not keeping fire equipment up to date. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, MAKE SURE FIRE FIGHTING EQUIPMENT IS WITHIN SELL BY DATE!
Ill be looking at alternatives to dry powder, it is messy, possibly foam but, this would not been as effective at blasting down a small hole, maybe both types are required, comments welcome?
To get to fire was far from easy, with all due respect to other members, I reckon some folks would give up, walk away, dial 999. Which is fine and well, if you are able to do this, I have had no phone access north of Perth.
Risk Assessments. Well worth doing, especially around kitchen area, which is a high risk area. Same for any other gas appliance, then on to front of vehicle, engine area.

At the moment, Im a tad pissed off. Maybe time I give this MH-ing lark up for a while. More time required fixing today damage, when we should actually be enjoying ourselves. Not returning home on what was a positive, now a negative. Buy a newer model at a later date?

Once I have analysed what has gone wrong (if I can) remove whole rear kitchen at rear of van, to replace with a modular replacement and, to include easy access elements, instead of painstaking self tapping screws.

Same for outside vents, I need to look at this, eight screws to remove top fridge vent, I need to change this crap, basic desing.

Anyways, Im sure what we endured today is very rare. Maybe par for the course when one owns an older vehicle?

Eight plus hours to get home, tad tired, stay safe out there......................

Cheers..............

Ps, some spelling errors.............sorry :)

kernowprickles
19-10-2013, 21:47
OMG, thank goodness you and your wife are OK, and still have a motorhome!! Thank you also for making the rest of us aware of how easily things can go badly wrong, as it's so easy to become complacent. I will check my fire extinguisher tomorrow; I've no idea what the expiry date is on it!

KP x x x

maxi77
19-10-2013, 21:49
Well done getting it so fast, speed is the essence in sorting out fires. As a replacement for the powder foam is good for most things especially if you watch out for the newer type that can be used on electrical fires, for the confined space CO2 is well worth a consideration, it can be squirted in through small holes and in confined spaces does not get blown away.

Hope the restoration is not to difficult and you get back on the road soon

Smaug
19-10-2013, 21:56
Ouch! Glad you are both safe tho & hope that the damage is relatively slight. Yes, BCF powder does make a god-awful mess - but it does put fires out quite well. I suspect that CO2 is probably the only sensible alternative, but they are generally bulkier I think.

How come no fuses blew? If it was electrical, that has to be your next question. Also a good reminder of the value of an isolator knob on the leisure battery.

Smaug
19-10-2013, 21:57
OMG, thank goodness you and your wife are OK, and still have a motorhome!! Thank you also for making the rest of us aware of how easily things can go badly wrong, as it's so easy to become complacent. I will check my fire extinguisher tomorrow; I've no idea what the expiry date is on it!

KP x x x

Aldi sell them from time to time & they have a pressure gauge on them, but they are BCF filled.

herbenny
19-10-2013, 22:01
.

mark61
19-10-2013, 22:09
Good job getting it out so fast.
As if a fire isn't enough cleaning up the powder is a real pain.

Good idea to have a fire extinguisher in any vehicle, not just MH's.

Smaug
19-10-2013, 22:19
Good job getting it out so fast.
As if a fire isn't enough cleaning up the powder is a real pain.

Good idea to have a fire extinguisher in any vehicle, not just MH's.

First thing I bought when we got our van. It was 9 years old & had never had an extinguisher. OK so fires are not common, but they are bloody dangerous if you can't deal with them & QUICKLY!

Runnach did all the right things & it is a good object lesson for us all - people out, isolate fuel & power & get an extinguisher to it as quick as you can & finally WAIT outside until you are SURE it is out & safe. Well done, mate; it can be hard to think straight in an emergency like that.

n brown
19-10-2013, 22:22
I've had a couple of fires-if nobody gets hurt its a result ! nothing else counts

phantom flyer
19-10-2013, 22:37
I check pressure gauge on extinguisher frequently but no idea about the date. Had the extinguisher for nearly six yesrs now must be due charge. Thankful you are both safe and well knowing how quickly vans can be engulfed by fire. Hope you get to find out how the fire was caused and pass on your findings so we all are aware of any problems. I don't run fridge on gas, but check it out now and again, use freezer packs and buy fresh every few days and with driving frequently keeps fridge cool. Not a big beer drinker, red wine for me and usually cold enough up north to keep all food stuff ok for a few days. Hope you are bsck on the road soon.

maingate
19-10-2013, 22:53
Could be that the insulation on the wiring just got brittle with age and more flammable. It does not sound like a short if the 12 volt was switched off. Sounds like your quick action minimised the damage and saved the van.

Hopefully it can be sorted alright.

shawbags
19-10-2013, 22:58
Sorry i might have deleted the last post :confused:, anyway glad to hear your both unharmed.

runnach
19-10-2013, 22:59
Thanks for all your kind words, folks.

It's really not all doom and gloom, although it could have been.

Postmortem tomorrow, once the remaining blue stuff has been hoovered up.

I'll report (with pics) the findings!!

Cheers................

bodgerndog
20-10-2013, 05:20
Heavens Terry, what a horrible thing to happen, right at the end of your lovely trip. I know that place well, it's far from help and i dread to think what might have happened had it not been for your excellent textbook response.

You've made me want to go out at first light and check my own extinguisher...I bet I will upgrade it now!

I do hope you get the van sorted out soon and won't be put off.

All the best to you both,
Hilary

scampa
20-10-2013, 05:30
Sorry to hear about your ordeal Runnach, but it sounds like you did everything correctly when you had to!

It's difficult to pinpoint what could have caused the fire without seeing the damage at first hand, but if you post some photo's of the layout and the damaged areas I'm sure you'll get plenty of helpful ideas on here.

You say that the 12 volt switch was off on the fridge, but unless it was also switched off at the control panel/fusebox/circuit-breaker, you will still have had a 12 volt supply going to the incoming side of the switch. Therefore one possible cause could be a faulty switch component, worn/damaged insulation, or similar electrical fault which could have caused a short circuit and overheating.

If the insulation around the damaged cable is now looser than usual, it could be a sign that it was heated from within (ie an electrical fault causing the conductor to overheat). If the insulation has melted onto the conductor, it can show that the heat came from an external source, such as a gas flame or burning material. This isn't a foolproof guide though, without other evidence to back it up.

Again, without seeing it, it's difficult to guess the likely cause, but could it have been a loose, cracked or damaged gas pipe or fitting, which caused gas to ignite beneath or behind the gas hob or the fridge? One of the most regular causes of cooking-related fires that I saw was due to small build-ups of cooking fat/grease in the harder to reach areas around or beneath the burners or grill/oven, that could ignite and burn undetected. This could occur even in regularly cleaned and well looked-after apparatus.

Excuse the silly question, but is there any chance that a piece of kitchen towel, cloth or paper etc could have got into a gap behind or beneath the cooking hob or fridge?

As for extinguishers, I also carry the dry-powder type, mainly because it is safe and effective to use on most types of fire, especially if there's a chance of mains electricity being present.
.................................................. .............

To save me some typing, I'll copy a post that I made on a similar topic last year......

I carry two dry powder extinguishers in my van. Both are fixed in position, one in the cab and one in the rear. Both are within easy reach whether I'm inside or outside of the van. The idea is that if I had a fire, I should be able to reach at least one of them safely without putting myself in undue danger.

Having them in a fixed position is much better than carrying them either loose somewhere in the van, or hidden in a cupboard etc., where you might struggle to get to them quickly and safely if needed. Also be wary of storing them too close to the stove, or other high fire risk area, because you may not be able to reach them safely if there is a fire.

Yes, dry powder can be messy to clean up afterwards, but they are the most versatile type and can be used safely and effectively on almost all classes of fire, including those involving live mains electricity. This versatility is a major advantage when faced with the urgency of discovering and dealing with a fire, because you don't have the added worry of deciding if the extinguisher is safe to use on the type of fire that you're faced with, which may involve live electrics or burning fuel etc.
(I've dealt with some pretty big burning fuel fires without using all of the contents of just one extinguisher, so I can vouch for their effectiveness!)

If you deal with a fire involving a gas pipe or appliance, remember to turn the gas supply off at the cylinder as soon as possible, otherwise even after extinguishing the fire, you may still have gas leaking into the area, creating further risk.

Most importantly, If you're not happy or confident in dealing with the fire, then just get everyone out to a place of safety. Losing your van and contents may be very upsetting and inconvenient, but it's obviously much better than risking injuries or worse.

While I'm here..... Have you tested your smoke alarms recently?? (you do have smoke alarms?!)
.................................................. ...

By the way, to clarify some confusing posts earlier in this thread..... Dry Powder extinguishers are filled with.... dry powder!! This is usually sodium bicarbonate, but can also be potassium bicarbonate, ammonium phosphate or other powders suitable for special materials. They contain a small gas-cartridge filled (usually) with nitrogen, which pressurises the extinguisher when you operate it, forcing the powder out of the nozzle.

BCF is actually a gas, Bromochlorodiflouromethane (from memory!). BCF/Halon type extinguishers were excellent for many types of fire, especially suited to electronics, control panels etc as they didn't damage them. BCF was banned from production in most countries about ten to twenty years ago, due to it's damaging effects on the ozone layer. They usually had a life-span of five years before they needed servicing/recharging, so you might still see some around, though they'll probably be well out of date! (They were the small green types, often sited near generators and power-plant etc).

The modern Foam or AFFF type extinguishers can be much less messy, and just as effective (sometimes more-so) as Dry Powder for general, all round fire-fighting, but avoid using foam (or water) near mains electricity of course! Foam (like water) can also cause damage to electrical/electronic gear.

Depending on circumstances, such as type and size of fire, or how much time or access I have, I personally may be tempted to just throw water onto a fire instead of using an extinguisher.

Never be afraid (or embarrassed) to call the Fire Brigade when you discover a fire. If you do find that you can't tackle it by yourself, then you will have saved precious time by calling them sooner rather than later! (Plus they will have to investigate the cause for their fire report, so it will also save you some detective work!)

Try not to let this mishap put you off for too long Runnach, and get back out there again when you can!

mariesnowgoose
20-10-2013, 06:57
Ooo Runnach! :scared: :(

So pleased you're both safe. Be interesting to see your photos and if you can establish what caused it.

Sorry you had such an alarming end to a good trip.
Sh*t happens, and I really hope you'll get things sorted and be back out having a good time again before too long.

runnach
20-10-2013, 07:18
Was a weary post last night. I'm still not pleased with outcome of a great week, however, fresh head, I think damage is limited and, I'll probably end up ripping out rear kitchen units, replace with an easy to unwrap alloy units.

First task, clear remaining powder, check fuses, note findings.........................ect.

Ultimately, no one hurt, huge result!

Cheers...............

seventiesboy
20-10-2013, 07:37
So sorry to hear what happened after such a good week in such a wonderful part of the country.
If nothing else, please accept my thanks for the warning about the expiry date of the extinguisher. I'll check mine today, I never even knew they had an expiry date. Thank you for that.
Good luck and remember no one hurt.
Take care.

CooP
20-10-2013, 08:17
Congratulations on remaining calm and logical in very stressful circumstances, panic can be the worst enemy in an emergency. Well done. Thank goodness all are safe and only material damage was caused. All easily replaced even if unfortunately at a cost.

A couple of points to bear in mind, fire extinguishers should be regularly checked and tested by the manufacturers/dealers/suppliers/agents or whomever is qualified to do so. I like to do mine annually, the agent has affixed a sticker to each one and writes the suggested date of the next test on it. It doesn't cost much and could end up saving a fortune.

I like to keep both a dry powder and a foam extinguisher handy. I have seen a clip on YouTube where a number of powder extinguishers failed to have an effect on an RV fire in the USA. Two of them failed to work at all. A lady with a foam extinguisher put it out in seconds. Yes the mess is awful but so is the mess caused by ash, charcoal and smoke damage.

It must be remembered that dry powder tends to compact when used in a motorhome or motor vehicle. The vibrations tend to settle the powder into a "brick" at the bottom of the cylinder and it then is impossible to be drawn up by the compressed air. Owners should should regularly (and frequently) give their dry powder extinguishers a good shake to keep the dry powder in a loose and flowing state.

mariesnowgoose
20-10-2013, 10:18
;)


https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn2/1379484_10151961901198466_1312007961_n.jpg

Shockingdog
20-10-2013, 10:52
Congratulations on remaining calm and logical in very stressful circumstances, panic can be the worst enemy in an emergency. Well done. Thank goodness all are safe and only material damage was caused. All easily replaced even if unfortunately at a cost.

A couple of points to bear in mind, fire extinguishers should be regularly checked and tested by the manufacturers/dealers/suppliers/agents or whomever is qualified to do so. I like to do mine annually, the agent has affixed a sticker to each one and writes the suggested date of the next test on it. It doesn't cost much and could end up saving a fortune.

I like to keep both a dry powder and a foam extinguisher handy. I have seen a clip on YouTube where a number of powder extinguishers failed to have an effect on an RV fire in the USA. Two of them failed to work at all. A lady with a foam extinguisher put it out in seconds. Yes the mess is awful but so is the mess caused by ash, charcoal and smoke damage.

It must be remembered that dry powder tends to compact when used in a motorhome or motor vehicle. The vibrations tend to settle the powder into a "brick" at the bottom of the cylinder and it then is impossible to be drawn up by the compressed air. Owners should should regularly (and frequently) give their dry powder extinguishers a good shake to keep the dry powder in a loose and flowing state.

I can confirm that dry powder does "pack down" as a result of the vibration and the general up and down movement of the vehicle. For this reason dry powder extinguishers are not allowed in rally cars. From my memory of a miss spent youth wizzing round the welsh countryside in the dead of night we had to have foam/gas extinguishers (Green in colour not red) to conform to the rallying regs.

runnach
20-10-2013, 11:01
;)


https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn2/1379484_10151961901198466_1312007961_n.jpg

I'm on my way, goosie :raofl:

666jw
20-10-2013, 15:48
Glad you your wife and rocky are ok Terry, could have been worse ( for both of us) . I could be stuck on remand now as the prime suspect, the last person to see you alive :D

Ps. I did see a stag finally, about an hour later going down the apple cross path in neutral and fast. (naughty I know, but I love the feeling and seeing 99.9 mpg for miles makes me happy :)) The stag stepped out in front of me and looked in my direction, before jumping over the crash barrier fast!! Great moment.
Near your neck of the woods, Berwick at the moment. :wave:

grumpyengraver
20-10-2013, 16:29
Glad you your wife and rocky are ok Terry, could have been worse ( for both of us) . I could be stuck on remand now as the prime suspect, the last person to see you alive :D

Ps. I did see a stag finally, about an hour later going down the apple cross path in neutral and fast. (naughty I know, but I love the feeling and seeing 99.9 mpg for miles makes me happy :)) The stag stepped out in front of me and looked in my direction, before jumping over the crash barrier fast!! Great moment.
Near your neck of the woods, Berwick at the moment. :wave:

Good job that's MPG and not MPH otherwise it would have been :goodnight: for you and the stag.

runnach
20-10-2013, 16:49
Glad you your wife and rocky are ok Terry, could have been worse ( for both of us) . I could be stuck on remand now as the prime suspect, the last person to see you alive :D

Ps. I did see a stag finally, about an hour later going down the apple cross path in neutral and fast. (naughty I know, but I love the feeling and seeing 99.9 mpg for miles makes me happy :)) The stag stepped out in front of me and looked in my direction, before jumping over the crash barrier fast!! Great moment.
Near your neck of the woods, Berwick at the moment. :wave:

Aye, could have been dodgy for you, Chris :D Backed up with intimidating posts on here :lol-061:

Place was crawling with stags, lots of lone males, seeking hinds to play with. Where did you stop that night??

Berwick, as in Tweed, or North?

Anyways, hope you had an enjoyable trip, you certainly lucked out with the weather on NW part of tour......

Cheers........

runnach
20-10-2013, 16:58
Not much time today to suss out what caused fire, managed some pics though, hard to say, short or, flame from gas burner leaking through??

I was a tad naive, it's a bloody mess, I should have grabbed essentials, then let the van burn. Then call a cab!

It's obvious we don't get on, any sensible offers over 5k accepted. Mechanically, certainly no complaints, new clutch (400) fitted July this year. April this year, full service, including renewal of brake fluid.

Cheers.

scampa
20-10-2013, 17:11
Just a quick response to the comments about the problem of dry powder "compacting" inside an extinguisher due to vibration....

This WAS a major problem with old style extinguishers, where the powder could compact so much that the pressure from the enclosed CO2 gas cartridge was insufficient to propel it out of the extinguisher. It was also an issue in extinguishers that were in fixed positions in buildings etc, that were not subject to any vibration. Part of the regular servicing/checks was to invert and shake the extinguisher, to ensure that the powder remained usable. Another problem was the presence of moisture in the extinguisher, caused by incorrect servicing or refilling, or by the mixing of different powder types. This could cause "caking" of the powder, making it unusable when needed.

Most modern Dry Powder extinguishers for public use are of the "Stored Pressure" type, where the whole contents, both powder and the expellant gas (eg nitrogen), are under constant pressure, ready for use. This doesn't have the same compacting problems as the older type, so is much more reliable. You can tell a "Stored Pressure" type by the presence of a pressure gauge on the neck, which should be checked regularly to ensure that it's in operational condition.

Check the labelling of the extinguisher to see that it is suitable for use on classes A,B & C fires, as some only cover B & C (class A fires are combustible solids such as wood, paper etc). Check that it complies to British & European Standard BSEN3, and follow the instructions for use and maintenance.

As far as I know, the Motor Sport Association do NOT allow Dry Powder extinguishers as the sole type to be carried in rally cars, but major motoring organisations such as the AA DO recommend and sell them for carrying in road vehicles (and fire engines carry them as standard stowage!).

There isn't one type of extinguisher that is ideal for every kind of fire, so I've found a couple of short videos to show some options....

Applications and advantages of Dry Powder Fire Extinguishers - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_751533&feature=iv&src_vid=Cexr93xMBGo&v=HPVOCa1pLn4)

Types of Fire Extinguisher and their uses. - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjSoxJF3RD4)

And don't have nightmares!

mikejay
20-10-2013, 17:45
Looks like it could have been a lot worse so glad you got to it in time. It looks like the plastic box that covers the wires has caught fire somehow. Maybe as you think the flame could have came back down that burner next to it as the plastic box (cover) would have been near this. Was you on leccy hookup at the time i don't know if your van is similar but ours only gets 12v to the switch when the engine is running so that would rule out 12v being the cause.

Glad you saved it hope you find the cause and keep your van.

Mike

666jw
20-10-2013, 18:03
Aye, could have been dodgy for you, Chris :D Backed up with intimidating posts on here :lol-061:

Place was crawling with stags, lots of lone males, seeking hinds to play with. Where did you stop that night??

Berwick, as in Tweed, or North?

Anyways, hope you had an enjoyable trip, you certainly lucked out with the weather on NW part of tour......

Cheers........

Got to Plockton, lovely little harbour. No TV reception . I know that's sad but after a couple of TV less nights with only the dog for company it was onwards and downwards ! Ended up in a lay by on the A87 five sisters area as night had set in. No TV, radio or phone reception !! I just had to hope that this info isnt known to any mad Scottish axe men !!
North Berwick up on the top carpark, obscuring the no overnight sign. Excellent views , tv,radio ,phone and internet reception. He who dares rodders :cool:

scampa
20-10-2013, 18:33
An event like this can shake you up, and the mess that it leaves behind can really get you down, but as I said earlier, don't let it put you off or make you give up on the van just yet.

Give it a week or two and see how you feel, but in the meantime, here's an old video of Tom Wier walking from Kenmore, around the Applecross area and over the Bealach na Ba to the old oil platform yard on Loch Kishorn. It might just tempt you to get back out there again! :)

Weir's Way - North and South Applecross - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOTz5vAdPpo)

yorkslass
20-10-2013, 20:15
the bits that got burnt don't look good but the cabinets look ok. glad your both safe. it happened to me a few years ago, I put the grill on without lifting the worktop:o scary:scared:

kernewek
20-10-2013, 20:19
Glad to see you are both OK runnach - hope you are back to wilding soon.

runnach
20-10-2013, 20:27
Thanks for this mate. Recognised a good few areas. Old Tam was a legend, wonder when this episode was originally aired, as Kishorn was well made up.

My dad was a Kishorn Commando. Worked on this one.....

Scottish Screen Archive - Full record for 'NINIAN CENTRAL PLATFORM, the' (http://ssa.nls.uk/film/5973)

Cheers.........

runnach
21-10-2013, 20:23
Managed to do a bit this evening. 12/240 Volt with cooling temp setting dial, is obviously covered with a plastic cover of sorts.

It is this part has melted, then of course, melting wires to the two switches. I'm no sparky expert, I reckon an electrical short has caused fire? As gaskets for both gas rings were intact and, scorch marks on stainless top, is solely above area of switch unit. Scorch marks will polish out, can do this at work.

There appears to be very little damage, if any, to top of fridge. So I reckon to take easy route, can anyone offer pointers to where I may purchase a replacement switch unit, please? Also, Unit is now separate from top of fridge, all that is stopping me from complete removal is what looks like a thermo coupling, see circled areas in red. How does one separate?

Cheers...........


Ps, red circle not too clear!

runnach
21-10-2013, 20:37
That,s better............

scampa
23-10-2013, 03:18
Thanks for this mate. Recognised a good few areas. Old Tam was a legend, wonder when this episode was originally aired, as Kishorn was well made up.

My dad was a Kishorn Commando. Worked on this one.....

Scottish Screen Archive - Full record for 'NINIAN CENTRAL PLATFORM, the' (http://ssa.nls.uk/film/5973)

Cheers.........

That episode of Weir's Way was made in 1986, although the actual filming might have taken place a few months earlier? It was several years after the Ninian Central Platform was built there, and only a year or so before the yard went out of use. I don't know if your dad would still have been there at the time?

The first time I saw the Kishorn yard was back around 1982, when I spent a week based nearby at Lochcarron (which didn't seem to have changed at all when I was there again last year!).

And just a thought on the cause of fire.... you say that the fridge stopped working on 12v ages ago. I wonder if that was also due to a fault in the switch, or a cracked or loose wire or connection to it, which eventually overheated enough to catch fire? That's only a guess of course, and assumes that there was still a 12v supply getting there in the first place.


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