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  1. Yesterday I had a small fire mishap while sitting at the engineering workstation. It seems my guardian angel saved me from a dreadful outcome. I was working on a CAD design when the PC's UPS backup started to randomly click (power relay noise). There's a voltage display on it and the voltage was randomly jumping up to 150VAC! My first thought was that the UPS was failing since 110VAC is used here (not 150VAC). Then I heard some arcing noise. As I was getting up to find the source of the electrical arcing I noticed that the space between my desk and wall was glowing brightly. But since there's no light back there this was a significant WTF moment for me. Then I saw it. A small section of the PC's power cord had sparks shooting out of it. Like a 4th of July roman candle sparkler. Major panic, followed by pulling cords from the wall socket. I was stunned, standing in a room filled with smoke. Postmortem revealed that the PC's Chinese made "10 Amp" cord had 21AWG (0.4mm2) wire in it. This is much too small and probably illegal in the USA for AC power cord applications. On the outside it looks like it is adequately sized, but the look inside shows it is a fake 10A rated cord. Here's a photo of the section that had started to go Chernobyl. BTW, the building's AC mains outlet is served by a Arc Fault Protected circuit breaker in the breaker load center box. It is designed to sense arcing and automatically shut off the circuit. There was a lot of arcing and sparking, yet it did not trip! My wife was (and still is) completely freaked out. Now she wants to pull every cord from every AC socket before bed time.
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