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Monday, 2 February 2015



The first humans discovered how to make fire by rubbing two sticks together. They burned wood to cook their food, heat their caves, and  frighten off wild animals. In time they learned to use fire to fashion crude tools and weapons and discovered forests could be cleared of underbrush so that game could be better seen and hunted. They also started burning animal fats and vegetable oils for light.

Anthropologies believe that man only learned how to make it himself 12,000 years ago.

The Athenians used to have a race in which the runners carried lighted torches. The victors who were crowned were those who arrived at the goal with their torch still burning.

The first known instance outside of the Bible of the use of the term 'Christian' was by the Roman historian Tacitus. He noted that the emperor Nero blamed the "Christians" for the starting the great fire of on the night of July 18, 64 that destroyed half of Rome, before being brought under control after six days. The fire had started at the southeastern end of the Circus Maximus in shops selling flammable goods

Hubert Robert, The Fire of Rome, 

The Great Fire of London broke out in 1666 and burned for three days, destroying 10,000 buildings including St Paul's Cathedral. The clergy claimed it was God’s judgement on the gluttony of the people.

A London watchmaker received the first patent for a fire escape on April 8, 1766. It consisted of a wicker basket on a pulley and a chain.

The first fireproof mill, with brick arches set on cast-iron pillars was built in Derby, England in 1793.

The ability to start fire in a flash only came with the invention of the match on April 7, 1827. The inventor was John Walker, an English chemist. He never patented the match as he thought it was too important to be anything but public property.

On October 16, 1834 a massive fire largely destroyed the Palace of Westminster, the medieval royal palace used as the home of the British parliament. Much of the ancient structure burnt to the ground. The fire could even be seen by the King and Queen from Windsor Castle, which is 25 miles away.

The Burning of the Houses of Parliament, a colored aquatint by an unknown artist

The Black Thursday bushfires that swept the state of Victoria, Australia on February 6, 1851 are considered the largest Australian bushfires in a populous region in recorded history, Approximately five million hectares, or a quarter of Victoria, was burnt, twelve lives were lost, along with one million sheep.

Black Thursday, February 6th. 1851, as depicted by William Strutt in 1864

While the 1871 Fire of Chicago did start in the O’Leary’s cow barn, there is no evidence that a cow actually started it. Michael Ahern, a reporter, admitted to creating the cow story to make his article more interesting.

The address of the cow barn where the Chicago fire started in 1871, is now the address of the Chicago Fire Academy.

The Peshtigo Fire was a forest fire that took place on October 8, 1871 in and around Peshtigo, Wisconsin, consuming an area twice the size of Rhode Island, It was the deadliest wildfire in recorded history, with estimated deaths of 1,500 - 2,500 people. However, the disaster was easily forgotten as it occurred the same day as the Great Chicago Fire.

The Iroquois Theater in Chicago was billed as "Absolutely Fireproof" in advertisements when it opened. It lasted 37 days before being destroyed on December 30, 1903 in what is still the deadliest single-building fire in United States history, leaving 602 dead and 250 injured.

The Great Fire of 1910 (also commonly referred to the Big Burn) started on August 20, 1910 in North East Washington, Northern Idaho and western Montana. The firestorm burned over two days and killed more than 80 people, including 78 firefighters, burning approximately 3 million acres. It is believed to be the largest, although not the deadliest, fire in US history.

Wallace, Idaho, after the Big Blowup

A tragic fire that broke out on March 25, 1911 in the New York City Triangle Shirtwaist Company, trapped numerous immigrant workers behind locked doors. Many jumped to their deaths from the garment factory, or were burned beyond recognition. In total, the 18-minute fire left 146 dead. However, they did not die in vain as new laws were passed to protect children and others from slave-type labor conditions. The owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company were indicted for manslaughter.

Image of Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire 
Clifford Johnson held the title of most severely burned person ever to survive, after making four trips into the 1942 Boston Coconut Grove nightclub fire fire to save his girlfriend - carrying out survivors each time. He later learned his girlfriend had actually escaped earlier. 14 years later he died in a motor vehicle fire.

The Cairo Opera House was destroyed by fire in 1970. Ironically the Cairo fire station was located inside the same building.

On December 31, 1979, 350 people attended a New Year's Eve party held at the OpĂ©miska Community Hall in Chapais, Quebec. During the event, pine branches used as Christmas decorations were accidentally set on fire. People inside did not immediately evacuate, as they thought the fire was part of a performance and as a result 48 people died.

The Summit tunnel fire, the largest underground fire in transportation history, occurred on December 20, 1984 when a freight train carrying over 1 million liters of petrol derailed near the town of Todmorden in the Pennines, North England. Surprisingly, the damage done by the fire was minimal.

 A fire at the National Penitentiary at Comayagua, Honduras on February 15, 2012, killed 361 people, making it the deadliest prison fire ever.

German Hubertus Wawra set the fire-eating world record in Mumbai, India on February 21, 2011. He extinguished with his mouth 39 torches in 30 seconds.

Burning Mountain in Australia contains an underground coal fire that has burned for approximately 6,000 years and is the oldest known coal fire.

California fire departments use hundreds of goats to help clear acres of dry grass and other vegetation that would otherwise act as highly flammable fuel for the US state's notorious wildfires.

The US has one of the highest fire death rates in the industrialized world, with more than 2 million fires reported each year.

Every 45 seconds, a house catches fire in the United States.

Fires that occur at home kill more Americans than all natural disasters combined.

In 1985 you had 17 mins to escape a house fire. Today it's 3-4 minutes as new homes and furniture burn faster.

The title of Ray Bradbury's most famous book, Fahrenheit 451. refers to the temperature at which paper bursts into flame.

The word "bonfire" came from the term "bone fire", when Druid priests would throw cattle bones into a flame in the winter to ensure the sun's return.

Fire can't burn in a zero-gravity environment; without gravity to create convection, the combustion byproducts become trapped around the flame and quickly deprive it of oxygen, snuffing it.

Flames in space burn with a lower temperature, at a slower rate, and with less oxygen than in normal gravity.

Earth is the only known planet where fire can burn. No other planet has enough oxygen.

Flammable and Inflammable: Two words that appear to be antonyms, which actually mean the same thing

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