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Forest fires don't start so easily - Experiments done with firemaking materials

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posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 05:35 AM
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I keep hearing about how easily these fires spread and just the tiniest spark will cause a new area to become engulfed in flames in just minutes. Well I had to see just how easy these fires can be started and spread so I decided to do some tests. I thought about the most flammable materials found in nature and what would be most likely to catch on fire the easiest, so anything else compared to this material would be more difficult to ignite especially with random sparks or flying embers. I choose pine needles from a white pine the needles are about 3-4" long. I had some I collected in a 55 gallon drum 2 years ago and they have been drying in a shed since. I filled a large 16L pot with needles and put them in the oven at 275 for an entire day then at 300 for 5 hours - closely watching them to see if they started to smoke or anything. Well after this they were COMPLETELY dry and the house smelled like I just brought in a Christmas tree.

After the 5 hours at 300F, I turned it back down to 275 and kept them warm/hot. I placed plates in the oven to warm them and then filled a plate with about 1" of needles - all while they were still hot. I ten took a lit cigarette and placed it on the bed of needles in an ideal position for contact with needles. After 3 attempts and no results (cigarette always went out before anything caught fire) I tried keeping it in the oven so the temp wouldn't cool off as it tired to light. Still no results though the cigarette burnt a little longer.

I next tried putting a little fan at different distances and I got about 3-40mph air blowing across the cigarette. After 3 cigarettes (each lit 3-4 times before they burn't up) I still hadn't had a fire. All I had were a couple spots where there were a couple darkened spots on the needles (very small areas, about the width of a cigarette). I even tried putting needles on top of the "cherry" so the heat would rise through them and I didn't get results, there just wasn't enough heat trapped by the needles (a small handful on top) - so a cigarette thrown on top of needles is going to have a hard time transferring heat DOWN as the heat will rise.

I also tried some dried leaves, dried the same way and they burnt much less intensely when lit with a lighter - the needles went up about 3-5x faster and more intensely due to the resin in them. The leaves also tend to matte and form a thicker, more solid, well matte. I'm trying today with some fluffed up but I'm not very hopeful in the results as I've already tried a few things I thought would work the best.

I'm going to try some sparks from an angle grinder on a piece of steel and one those flint/spark strips made for starting fires with magnesium. I'm going to try heating some nails with a blowtorch to different temps (up to white hot) and dropping them in the needles. I'm looking for other ideas of things to test, both flammable materials as well as ways that could be used to start a fire - so if anyone could suggest ideas, I'll give them a try.

I'm taking video of the tests and I'm going to post it online after i'm done but from what i've found this myth that fires start from any tiny spark or ember is total BS - unless someone can explain to me how it is different out there, or ways I could make the test more accurate.

I'm open to any suggestions and thoughts to make this a more accurate test.




posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 05:44 AM
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a reply to: DigginFoTroof

Fag is slang for cigarette here.


That's when we found fag ends ­absolutely everywhere.
www.dailymail.co.uk... wild-fire.html

Sounds like they had to try, try and try again to start the 'accidental' fires we had here in the summer.



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 05:54 AM
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originally posted by: DigginFoTroof
I keep hearing about how easily these fires spread and just the tiniest spark will cause a new area to become engulfed in flames in just minutes. Well I had to see just how easy these fires can be started and spread so I decided to do some tests. I thought about the most flammable materials found in nature and what would be most likely to catch on fire the easiest, so anything else compared to this material would be more difficult to ignite especially with random sparks or flying embers. I choose pine needles from a white pine the needles are about 3-4" long. I had some I collected in a 55 gallon drum 2 years ago and they have been drying in a shed since. I filled a large 16L pot with needles and put them in the oven at 275 for an entire day then at 300 for 5 hours - closely watching them to see if they started to smoke or anything. Well after this they were COMPLETELY dry and the house smelled like I just brought in a Christmas tree.

After the 5 hours at 300F, I turned it back down to 275 and kept them warm/hot. I placed plates in the oven to warm them and then filled a plate with about 1" of needles - all while they were still hot. I ten took a lit cigarette and placed it on the bed of needles in an ideal position for contact with needles. After 3 attempts and no results (cigarette always went out before anything caught fire) I tried keeping it in the oven so the temp wouldn't cool off as it tired to light. Still no results though the cigarette burnt a little longer.

I next tried putting a little fan at different distances and I got about 3-40mph air blowing across the cigarette. After 3 cigarettes (each lit 3-4 times before they burn't up) I still hadn't had a fire. All I had were a couple spots where there were a couple darkened spots on the needles (very small areas, about the width of a cigarette). I even tried putting needles on top of the "cherry" so the heat would rise through them and I didn't get results, there just wasn't enough heat trapped by the needles (a small handful on top) - so a cigarette thrown on top of needles is going to have a hard time transferring heat DOWN as the heat will rise.

I also tried some dried leaves, dried the same way and they burnt much less intensely when lit with a lighter - the needles went up about 3-5x faster and more intensely due to the resin in them. The leaves also tend to matte and form a thicker, more solid, well matte. I'm trying today with some fluffed up but I'm not very hopeful in the results as I've already tried a few things I thought would work the best.

I'm going to try some sparks from an angle grinder on a piece of steel and one those flint/spark strips made for starting fires with magnesium. I'm going to try heating some nails with a blowtorch to different temps (up to white hot) and dropping them in the needles. I'm looking for other ideas of things to test, both flammable materials as well as ways that could be used to start a fire - so if anyone could suggest ideas, I'll give them a try.

I'm taking video of the tests and I'm going to post it online after i'm done but from what i've found this myth that fires start from any tiny spark or ember is total BS - unless someone can explain to me how it is different out there, or ways I could make the test more accurate.

I'm open to any suggestions and thoughts to make this a more accurate test.





Ridiculous...pull up a video of a dry Christmas tree ignited by a single spark..seconds...to less than 1 minute to engulf the entire tree and entire room.
Don't be foolish...

EMT
A.D.L.S
SEARCH and RESCUE
F.D.



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 05:55 AM
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a reply to: DigginFoTroof

Pine needles aren't particularly flammable.

Try your experiments with something like cheat grass, and you'll see wildly different results! Cheat grass will ignite if you look at the stuff wrong! We had a fire nearby this year which burned about 600 acres and it was started by a spark off of a trailer safety chain. Just last week a bit north of here I personally witnessed a fire which spread from something you could stomp out to 10 acres being involved over a span of 6-7 minutes. Seriously. In fact, I saw the 'small' fire and actually turned down the road to assist, and even in the short time it took to drive down the road the fire had spread to the point where it was going to take a wildfire crew to put it out.



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 05:59 AM
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a reply to: mysterioustranger

I don't think it's the pine needles burning though, is it? I thought it was the dry kindling on the tree which is what ignites (sticks and stems, etc.)



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 06:04 AM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

Pick any video on the subject.

FYI: most ready picked "fresh" Christmas trees are picked in Sept-Oct...and sit unwatered and dry until purchased.

They are a good example of dry Forrest igniting by watching video....



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 06:15 AM
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I've personally accidentally started two fires with cigarette butts - AFTER I (thought I) extinguished them. One butt I discarded into a rubbish bin outside, couple of minutes later I walked past to find a melted mess. The bin was about a third full of common household waste. The other one - an ashtray caught fire, luckily there was nothing close so it couldn't spread.

Needless to say I make extra sure a cigarette is out before I walk away these days.

Two months ago my swimming pool pump burnt to a tiny heap of melted fiberglass over night. I don't know how it started (probably an electric short) - but the scary part is that the pipes and filters were filled with water, yet it didn't stop the fire...



Point is: Fires start frighteningly easy. (Yet, when I try to light a BBQ fire, I fail miserably if I don't use an accelerant...)



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 06:43 AM
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originally posted by: Flyingclaydisk
a reply to: DigginFoTroof

Pine needles aren't particularly flammable.

Try your experiments with something like cheat grass, and you'll see wildly different results! Cheat grass will ignite if you look at the stuff wrong! We had a fire nearby this year which burned about 600 acres and it was started by a spark off of a trailer safety chain. Just last week a bit north of here I personally witnessed a fire which spread from something you could stomp out to 10 acres being involved over a span of 6-7 minutes. Seriously. In fact, I saw the 'small' fire and actually turned down the road to assist, and even in the short time it took to drive down the road the fire had spread to the point where it was going to take a wildfire crew to put it out.



Good idea. I have some really tall natural grass (like 4-6ft tall) and it gets a fluffy "tail" on the top that is very flammable. The stalks also get really dry as well. I'll get some of this and test it as well.

As for the pine needles not being flammable, are you serious? You seem to have some extremely odd and antagoinstic views to many things I post that just seem implausible in their truth other than to just try and create an argument. If you really think that "long leaf" pine needles aren't flammable, then you don't know what you are speaking about.

As for the video's of christmas trees and such, yes they do go up when a flame starts, but the point is that to get the flame to start isn't as easy as people think. now if there was an accelerant placed in on the needles/tree, then that would help the flame start. Who's to say that the tree wasn't sprayed with a lacquor preservative that ignites at 120-140C? All I can do is explain what I've done and tested. If you want to believe something else than that is your disorder, not mine.

If you see a video of a fire starting, how can you tell that there isn't something else there helping the fire start, like a spray of methanol, which burns invisibly, or something else that would help it catch fire more easily? We all know the gov won't lie to us and video's always show the truth.



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 06:44 AM
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Dry grass is easy to ignite with cigarette,

Dry wood then takes hold of the flame.

It may be that these fires are nefarious. But the science behind a forest fire cannot be put into question off the back of your experiment. Well, it can but it isn't valid.



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 06:46 AM
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a reply to: Gemwolf

Same with the fireplace. Takes several tries to get a blaze going.
But in the wild with winds and kindling ...



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 06:53 AM
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a reply to: Sillyolme

As I have found out recently... My dry cherry wood (normally used for smoking meat on the BBQ) ignites wonderfully. However the coal delivered last week is a nightmare for an inexperienced fire starter. 40 minutes I was trying to get it going the other night.



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 06:54 AM
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a reply to: DigginFoTroof


Fire triangle explained...
m.youtube.com...

For kicks and giggles.
29 years in the business.


AARF 3
FF3
RIT
Pennsylvania State instructor
BSN
PHRN


edit on 16-11-2018 by Bigburgh because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 06:55 AM
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originally posted by: and14263
a reply to: Sillyolme

As I have found out recently... My dry cherry wood (normally used for smoking meat on the BBQ) ignites wonderfully. However the coal delivered last week is a nightmare for an inexperienced fire starter. 40 minutes I was trying to get it going the other night.


Now you made me hungry 😆😆



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 07:03 AM
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a reply to: Bigburgh

With the risk of taking this thread off-topic....

That is one nice looking steak my good man. This year for Christmas I will be cooking the turkey on the smoker, complete with pigs in blankets. I'll save you some.



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 07:03 AM
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originally posted by: and14263
a reply to: Sillyolme

As I have found out recently... My dry cherry wood (normally used for smoking meat on the BBQ) ignites wonderfully. However the coal delivered last week is a nightmare for an inexperienced fire starter. 40 minutes I was trying to get it going the other night.


Mix in some lump hardwood coal, I get mine from Lowes. In a chimney it takes longer for it all to catch, but I find getting a base isn't as hard, you can also mix in regular coal. (I assume you are using this as your base to light your cherry in the smoker and get your heat to climb off the bat then even out).

It is ironic to me how hard it can be to start a fire in a controlled enviroment sometimes even with seasoned wood, kindling, and coal....

When I was a kid in Texas, I had a friend lighting a firecracker and through it into some dry grass.... Sometimes things aren't as hard. I imagine it was the fuse that lit it, but none the less, after 2-3 seconds you'd think the force from the fire cracker would put it out, nope.



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 07:06 AM
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Bad test. Volunteer in forrestry in the UK, try lighting burrs, thistle's, horse's tail, any whispy growth. It's perfect tinder explodes into flame with a spark. Temperatures accumulate to ignition point of pine needles, which are a major fuel source but the resin is protected by the waxy exterior.

Takes us only five minutes to start a controlled fire from tinder to logs in the wettest, dampest part of the UK in winter, in summer and autmn fuel sources are more abundant, this summer were te biggest forrest/moorland fires in recent history, moost caused by people using barbecues (temperatures can exceed 1000C on the base)- a compass or peice of glass or plastic can be used as a lense to ignite a leaf using sunlight with no flame required.

Forrest floors are full of fuel and soils burn for weeks, fires can travel a few miles underground before reaching the surface again. The vast majority self extinguish quickly but with enough dry weather and decent temperatures it's pretty much a certainty a large fire will build.


originally posted by: and14263
a reply to: Sillyolme

As I have found out recently... My dry cherry wood (normally used for smoking meat on the BBQ) ignites wonderfully. However the coal delivered last week is a nightmare for an inexperienced fire starter. 40 minutes I was trying to get it going the other night.


Yup cherry and ash are the woods we use for outdoors fires (making brews and cooking breads, meats stews etc on)...we don't even store the wood indoors or dry it, just stick it out the way under a tree and it's reliable all year round (bar not having a tarp/cover over the fire during torrential rain) - Coal is a bastard without using the rolled up newspaper method (rolll a long line, fold the midpoint over at right angle until it creates a 3d christmas cracker type shape - not tried it indoors but for outdoor fires this year I've relied on grabbing a few sticks and using a potato peeler to create kindling and fire sticks (peel the wood but leave curly, high flamable stribps on the main twig so it lights like a candle that takes seconds to do and requires no fancy knife skills as the potato peeler does all the hard work for you and keeps your digits intact; we've recently adopted it for teaching kids aged six and above how to light and tend to their own fires responsibly).


edit on 16-11-2018 by bastion because: (no reason given)

edit on 16-11-2018 by bastion because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 07:07 AM
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a reply to: and14263

(Shhhhhhhhh) rib roast....

Burnt lasagna no more.

If anyone is curious, that Cessna tried taking off with the Emergency brakes on....
SMOKE AND FLAME😮😮😮

Hydrolic fluid will ignite at very high temperatures.
edit on 16-11-2018 by Bigburgh because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 07:21 AM
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a reply to: Bigburgh


Hydrolic fluid will ignite at very high temperatures.


Ever see the test of a space shuttle landing with a blow out?

Apparently the tire and aluminum hardware make for a nice light show.


edit on 16-11-2018 by CriticalStinker because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 07:34 AM
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a reply to: bastion

Thanks guys/girls, I will put this information to good use!

The smoker lights well, I think it's the airflow. It's the open fire I have in the living room which is harder to get started.

I do recall my old man rolling and folding newspaper for the coal fire many years ago, I will try this too.



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 07:35 AM
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a reply to: DigginFoTroof

So two things:

First, you must be overly sensitive. I wasn't being antagonistic at all. Just merely giving you some comparative materials.

Secondly, oh never mind.

Enjoy your experiments.




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