Hot Fire Facts

Ten things you probably didn't know about fire. Emma Segal
FEELING HOT, HOT, HOT The flame gases in a candle are the same temperature as they are in the biggest crown fire - about 1,000 degrees celsius. Source: Mark Finney, Missoula Fire Sciences Lab, US Forest Service FIERY PLANET Globally, more than 350 million hectares –the size of India - burn every year. One hectare is about the size of a soccer field. Source: Prof. Mike Flannigan, Univ. of Alberta COLOUR MY FLAME The colour of the flame depends on the mix of fuel and oxygen. At the bottom of a flame, there’s more oxygen, which 'excites' the molecules causing them to glow blue. Higher in the flame there is more soot (carbon particles), which glows yellow/orange. Source: Josh Johnston, research scientist, Canadian Forest Service STRUCK BY LIGHTNING Lightning strikes Canada more than 2 million times a year, and causes 45% of our forest fires. We humans are responsible for the rest. Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada HOUSE ON FIRE If your smoke alarm goes off, get out - fast. While it used to take about 17 minutes for a house to be fully engulfed in flames, today it can take as little as 3 minutes. Source: Peter McBride, Ottawa Fire Service WATCH THE STOVE Cooking is the number one cause of residential fires in Canada; more fires start in the kitchen than in anywhere else in the house. Source: Source: https://canadianhomeowner.ca/seven-most-common-causes-house-fire-how-to-prevent/ ‘TIS THE SEASON Residential fires are most likely to occur between Dec. and March. Holiday hazards include electrical cords, Xmas trees - and candles. The top 4 days for candle fires are Christmas eve/day and New Year’s eve/day. Source https://www.usfa.fema.gov/prevention/outreach/holiday.html GOOEY SCIENCE Why does a marshmallow expand when you roast it? More than half the volume of the fluffy treat is actually air. Heat makes the air expand and take up more space inside the marshmallow, forcing the gelatin mix to stretch. Yum. Source: https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/11/15774634/marshmallows-smores-camping-camp-fire-summer-food-science BURNING BUSH The biblical tale of Moses and the burning bush may have scientific roots. One theory suggests he could have encountered Dictamnus albus, a desert shrub known as the 'gas plant'. In the heat of the summer, it creates a methane-like flammable substance that can ignite spontaneously. Source: https://nowiknow.com/burning-bush/ THAT SHAKESPEARE WAS LIT! In 1613, London’s Globe Theatre was accidentally set ablaze when a cannon misfired during a performance of Henry VIII. Luckily, the only injured theatregoer was a man 'whose flaming breeches were eventually put out using a handy bottle of ale.' Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/only-in-britain/fire-destroy-globe-theatre/

For more, watch Into the Fire.

Available on CBC Gem

Into the Fire

Nature of Things