Wondering about wild grapes

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Wondering about fire.

I hear a lot about fire on the news lately. It seems like half of Texas is on fire or was and also there seems to be a lot of home and apartment fires around this area, too. That got me wondering about fire. First, what is it?

A simple explanation is the combination of a fuel and oxygen that produces heat and flame. Like one article I read stated, “Fire is an event, not a thing.” Most all of the fuels we use got their energy from the sun. You know, like wood, coal, gas, oil, etc. All these fuels were produced by photosynthesis, which is nothing more than taking sunlight and heat to make chemical energy in the form of fossil fuel, wood, etc. Fire uses chemical energy to make light and heat. So a campfire is a tree running in reverse.

There have been a lot of wild fires here in Texas that has burned over a million acres and caused the loss of homes, property, and the lives of some firefighters. But, do you know what the biggest wild fire in recorded history was and where it was? In 1987 a wildfire burned 20 million acres across China and the Soviet Union.

Sometimes some good can come out of something bad. Like back in 1666, eighty percent of London was destroyed by fire, but it also ended an outbreak of bubonic plague that had killed more than 65,000 people over the previous year.

Do you know what America’s deadliest was? I bet you guessed the Great Chicago Fire, didn’t you? Yea, I would have, too. Just for your information, the second deadliest fire broke out the same day as the Great Chicago Fire but with 1200 casualties, the Peshtigo Fire in Wisconsin was the second deadliest. The most deadly fire was on a boat in the Mississippi River where 1547 passengers were killed. It was the steam ship Sultana. Google “SS Sultana” to read more about it.

I could go on and on and on, but I have to go light a fire so I can get a cup of my good strong coffee. You all have a great holiday weekend and be safe out there.


  1. Interesting information. Between you and Hermit Jim I am learning all sorts of important things. Thank you.

  2. People complain about fire laws, but often there's a horrible fire with multiple deaths behind them. Most people have no idea how fast fire can grow or travel.

  3. Burning...make that controlled burning, by the national forestry dept is one of the biggest hassles that they face each year by people. The forestry dept want to keep underbrush cleared to promote a healthy and diverse wildlife population and to prevent UNCONTROLLED fire yet some people think that is a bad thing. I think they are afraid of it getting out of control but rarely stop and actually check out how exactly the forestry dept does it. I really believe it is one of the reasons there has not been an uncontrolled fire anywhere near me. Fire can be a healthy thing for an environment, some plant seeds will not germinate without it.

  4. Barney, I learn a lot from your blog. You take me places I have never been and would like to go. Maybe when it cools off some.

    Sixbears, a typical house fire can double in size every minute. About like a waist size if you eat too much good tasting stuff. . .

    Kellie, forestry service controlled burns are a good thing. I fully agree with you.

  5. Fire one up, fire in the hole, light my fire, liar liar pants on fire, ready set fire! Now my mind is on fire!

  6. Since your on a science jag I'll give you a topic. Oxygen is need for fire. Now, how much oxygen is in the air we breath?

    ( I think you might be surprised by what you find, it's pretty interesting)

  7. Fran, so seems the state of Texas. This has been a bad year for fires.

    Jill, way back almost a hundred years ago when I was in school, I was taught that the air was 21 percent Oxygen. I am sure it has dropped some, maybe a half a percent of so.

  8. The deadliest fire in history was started on Yucca flats back in the forties...