We take a lot of pride at Necrosis Valley Haunts at running a fun, scary, but SAFE community haunt. To achieve this, we make sure all thumbs are smashed, heads are cracked on 2x4s, and electrical shocks take place only during the annual build and are only shared with haunt build staff (i.e., Jeff and Greg) and usually involve the unfortunate presence of too many beer cans.
In all seriousness, we take great pains to ensure a safe and fun event for our visitors. But we have had our share of failures. They have mainly been limited to tripping breakers, storm damage, snow, etc. It bears noting that MOST fails we have are in the rare occasion when we break our own rule and utilize a Phoning-It-In Store Bought prop. Nothing says, “We just don’t friggin care” like a haunt full of store bought props.
But we did have something of a doozie with the deflating Great Fire Of 2011. OK, it was a fire, and it was 2011, but it was also quite small and contained and outside, and away from any guests. I mentioned, we ARE very careful and safe.
2011 featured the Necrosis Valley MEATS haunt (and introduced the world to our boy, Chopper Valley). The MEATS backstory (not that any of you ever take time to familiarize yourselves with the backstory) centered on the H&H Brothers once again cutting corners (and bodies) in an effort to relocate corpses from the old Garrett Cemetery while avoiding environmental rules and costs.
Chop ‘em, grind ‘em, stuff ‘em, cure ‘em, and serve ‘em as the world’s finest sausages and brats.
Our Meat: Your Treat!
Our centerpiece haunt prop in ’11 was the Bonebrake and Dahmer 3400 Sinew Shredder. This fine piece of machinery readily converted entire sets of human remains into a tasty meat product for casing and curing. The grinder featured massive rotating gears, a man-sized hopper (rapidly feeding in a man-sized man), billowing smoke, and realistic fresh ground meat spewing from the extrusion pipe. AND, adequate multi-lingual safety warning placards. See? Safety! Cuidado!
But SEEING the grinder is one thing. Hearing it, another. Affixed to the grinder was an old electric weed whacker motor which creating an air-rattling grinding noise as the shredder sprang to life. This reminds me, Black and Decker electric weed whips should come with a product warning noting they are not intended for extended continual operation.
Somewhere mid-way through the haunt, Jeff was again fixing a tripped circuit breaker and Greg was manning the command center/control booth. A guest approached the booth to compliment the haunt.
“Outdid yourselves this year – the fire coming from the grinder was an awesome touch.”
I was on the walkie in a blink screaming “JEFF! WE GOTTA FIRE! GET OUT HERE!!!” while simultaneously shutting down power to that section of the haunt to isolate the issue.
L.S.T.: The weed-whacker/grinder motor had overheated and was, in fact, on fire. While a small fire, maybe 3” wide and more or less confined to the motor housing, safety dictated a complete release of the entire extinguisher, as if the Blob itself was on the attack. Fire out – prop out of commission. By then, Jeff was on the scene too. Within minutes, with some ginger handling of the hot and smoking motor, we removed the culprit part, carefully checked the prop for any other signs of fire or damage, and ran a quick test. In moments we were back in business, though the grinder was a wee bit quitter. And a piece of Haunt Lore was now in the books.
We learned a few lessons, and also were able to feel good that we were prepared for things such as this – instant communication, fire watch, fire suppression equipment, ability to isolate problems, and frankly, a good bit of speed for a few aging men.
And, we know we must continue to diligently ensure our haunt is safe.