I really don't think the problem is lighting too much coals - but there is an issue with letting the temps fly. I have used mine as a wood burner. Given air, it would combust and have flames coming out of the top, but when choked, I could get the temp back down pretty easy.
I don't know how well your lid fits, but it might be drawing air there. If it can draw any air, it will be hard to get the temps down once they are up and your whole basket is lit.
I know I have some cracks in my current drum. While I can still control temps very well, I have caught it having live coals 6hrs after I closed it up. My last drum could kill all the coals fairly quickly (an hr or so). That really surprised me, when I did back to back burns (evening and morning) and did not need to relight.