WOW! The pic of the machine is startling. It turned a good portion of a two group nearly inside out. Evidently caused by a boiler explosion. A reminder to us to descale and verify that safety valves are operating properly. The second shot shows broken ceramic ware all over the floor, I guess was sitting on top of the cup warmer when it blew up.
Imagine what a boiler explosion was like on the old steam driven Mississippi river boats. Those boatmen were crazy. In a race (often with passengers on board) they would take a rag and tie down the pressure safety valve to raise pressure in the steam boiler. Those boats had engines with pistons that were, in some cases 6 feet in diameter or more iirc..
Normal operating pressures on the boilers is so low (2 bar?), and the pressure required for such an explosion is so extremely high, there is simply no excuse for a machine design without redundant safety pressure relief. A failure of this type should never occur.
Thanks all, I'm completely fine except for the hearing which isn't back to normal yet.
This picture was obviously taken sometime afterwards:
I was at the express checkout where the bloke arrowed is standing (that's my abandoned shopping in the orange bags) when there was a very very loud explosion. There was a large cloud which lasted a second or two followed by the sound of tinkling glass. Having grown up with numerous bomb threats, my first thought was that a bomb had gone off but after a couple of seconds noticed the remains of the espresso machine in the middle of the floor. It had been blown over the counter and landed just behind where the guy in the flourescent jacket is standing.
A young chap in a suit went down and was laying on his side for a good time, I thought he may have been seriously injured but he got up after a bit so I imagine he was just shocked or winded. Several cafe customers got covered with broken glass/crockery. One of the cafe operatives came running out and had to sit on the floor at the back of our checkout as her legs gave way :/ The other operative was still behind the counter but I didn't see her but loads of supermarket staff descended on the scene not really knowing what to do.
The bloke in the queue behind me was on the phone and was saying something to me but I couldn't make out what it was due to being temporarily deafened, he must have thought I was right plank.
The fire alarms came on after a short while so the building was evacuated and I was pulling out of the car park just at the time the first cop car was arriving.
All in all it appears that everybody bar one got off quite lightly, it could have been much worse.
I hope this will encourage espresso machine owners to take maintenance and use of their machines seriously.
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