Welcome aboard Chad!
To answer your blower concerns, yes the blower goes inline, this we usually call a “suction blower”. You should be OK using the suggestions given (Kirby, shop-vac, mattress blower), yes the gas passes through the motor area but many heavy duty vacuum cleaners are explosion resistant, ie designed not to make sparks into the airstream. In addition, the gas passing through the blower should be pure, ie no oxygen. If this is the case, it cannot burn because of the lack of oxygen. Make sure you have no air leaks prior to the blower!
The melting concern is justified however. You need to cool the gas before the blower. Some long metal tubes or pipes, any configuration, will do fine for this experimental build. If you go to any kind of trouble to build one, make the tubes run in parallel not in series.
Just a side note, there are also “pusher blowers” and “reverse blowers” but that’s not necessary (or even desirable) on this build.
From your description of the gasifier, it is definitely possible to make good gas with it. You need a lot more flow to keep it hot. Keep an eye on the output temps as you ramp things up, at some point it will dramatically spike and you’ll know you’ve reached the limit of your char bed.
Speaking of char, you should be using homemade charcoal in small pieces. If you don’t have any yet, you can use the gasifier itself to make some. I have a couple videos on this: