snopes.com  

Go Back   snopes.com > Non-UL Chat > Crash and Burn

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 05 December 2012, 02:57 AM
nonnieyrissa's Avatar
nonnieyrissa nonnieyrissa is offline
 
Join Date: 16 July 2007
Location: Brooklyn/Hudson, NY/Rancho Cordova, CA
Posts: 2,553
Flame Christmas tree fire destroys a living room in under a minute

Comment: A house fire, most likely sparked by faulty Christmas tree lights, envelopes a living room in a shocking 46 seconds. Fire Kills wants everyone to enjoy their Christmas. Check your Christmas tree lights are in good condition, turn them off before you go to bed and be safe at home over the festive season. Keeping your tree well watered can also prevent fire from taking hold. Fire kills - you can prevent it. http://www.direct.gov.uk/firekills

http://youtu.be/hMtjGfr0tYs

Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 05 December 2012, 03:28 AM
crocoduck_hunter's Avatar
crocoduck_hunter crocoduck_hunter is online now
 
Join Date: 27 May 2009
Location: Roseburg, OR
Posts: 7,232
Default

Is that video using an accelerant? Because even a dry Christmas tree out to take a little longer to erupt into flames of that size.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 05 December 2012, 03:47 AM
nonnieyrissa's Avatar
nonnieyrissa nonnieyrissa is offline
 
Join Date: 16 July 2007
Location: Brooklyn/Hudson, NY/Rancho Cordova, CA
Posts: 2,553
Default

Supposedly, no. It was a fire believed to be caused only by sparks from defective lights, and by luck caught on a security cam. I almost posted it in Faux though because it just seems incredibly fast and there doesn't seem to be much in the room in need of security. I didn't as it was posted from a government agency, and am not an expert in house-fires, but I agree it seems to be moving much too rapidly.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 05 December 2012, 03:52 AM
Beachlife!'s Avatar
Beachlife! Beachlife! is online now
 
Join Date: 23 June 2001
Location: Lansing, MI
Posts: 25,826
Default

I'm fairly certain I've seen that video before and it is a staged demonstration.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 05 December 2012, 04:20 AM
Cervus's Avatar
Cervus Cervus is offline
 
Join Date: 21 October 2002
Location: Florida
Posts: 19,720
Default

Like Beachlife, I've seen this before and am also fairly certain it was staged as a demonstration video.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 05 December 2012, 05:10 AM
nonnieyrissa's Avatar
nonnieyrissa nonnieyrissa is offline
 
Join Date: 16 July 2007
Location: Brooklyn/Hudson, NY/Rancho Cordova, CA
Posts: 2,553
Default

Aside from you already knowing it was staged, is it possible for a fire to consume a room that fast?
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 05 December 2012, 05:12 AM
Singing in the Drizzle Singing in the Drizzle is offline
 
Join Date: 24 November 2005
Location: Bellingham, WA
Posts: 4,473
Default

I sure that I have seen it before as well.

About 10 seconds into the video you will see the flame start from behind a box under the tree.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 05 December 2012, 06:26 AM
crocoduck_hunter's Avatar
crocoduck_hunter crocoduck_hunter is online now
 
Join Date: 27 May 2009
Location: Roseburg, OR
Posts: 7,232
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by nonnieyrissa View Post
Aside from you already knowing it was staged, is it possible for a fire to consume a room that fast?
Depends on what the materials in the various pieces of furniture, carpet, and wallpaper include. In the US, most modern home furnishings tend to have some degree of fire retardant (especially California, where there are strict codes over it, but most manufacturers sell the same products all over the US so they manufacture to the restrictions regardless), so the chairs and carpet shouldn't ignite very easily.

OTOH, I've seen various demonstrations on Mythbusters of how quickly a room can go up in flames, but that's usually only when there's something that will spread burning material quickly, like when they were testing how large a fireball they could get by dumping water on a grease fire or had otherwise attempted to optimize conditions for ignition.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 05 December 2012, 08:16 AM
curlygirl's Avatar
curlygirl curlygirl is offline
 
Join Date: 08 December 2005
Location: Perth, Australia
Posts: 798
Default

It looked like it might have been sped up but googling finds other videos that show trees burning just as quickly, including this interesting comparison between a dry tree and a well watered tree.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 05 December 2012, 11:26 AM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
Join Date: 04 November 2005
Location: Borlänge, Sweden
Posts: 11,406
Default

The tree contains terpentine, so, if dry, it can burn quickly.

That said, it's staged. Why? The camera is at floor level. A surveillance camera would be mounted at ceiling level, but, since they knew the room would burn, they placed it well below the smoke.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 05 December 2012, 01:14 PM
Atlanta Jake's Avatar
Atlanta Jake Atlanta Jake is offline
 
Join Date: 12 September 2001
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 1,537
Default

I have this video on a flash drive that I used to use for teaching classes on fire safety. IIRC (and I may not) this was made in response to a fatal fire in Baltimore MD. They attempted to recreate the conditions of the fire. The video I had was much longer, showing the construction of the dummy room and all.

FWIW the rule of thumb that I have been taught is that fires Double in size every 3 minutes until they run out of fuel, air, or are extinguished. That is why we put such an emphasis on quickly applying water when responding.

/Jake
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 05 December 2012, 01:40 PM
firefighter_raven's Avatar
firefighter_raven firefighter_raven is offline
 
Join Date: 27 September 2008
Location: Bend, OR
Posts: 2,437
Default

I've seen trees(individual isolated trees) go up that fast in wildland fires in the open so have no problem seeing that happening in a contained environment like a room where the heat is reflected back from the walls and ceiling.

As for the accelerant, the tree sap is very flammable and the tree probably has very little fuel moisture.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 05 December 2012, 01:59 PM
Floater's Avatar
Floater Floater is offline
 
Join Date: 24 February 2000
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Posts: 6,625
Default

I have seen a couple of videos demonstrating how fire spreads in a room (not this one as far as I can remember) and I have no problems believing that it can happen this fast.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 05 December 2012, 03:29 PM
Seaboe Muffinchucker's Avatar
Seaboe Muffinchucker Seaboe Muffinchucker is offline
 
Join Date: 30 June 2005
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 14,172
Glasses

Mythbusters, with the help of a fire department, did a show that demonstrated just how fast a Christmas tree will burn once it gets started. They also showed that over doing the lights alone won't set it off, but a short somewhere will.

There's a lot of available fuel that is exposed to oxygen in an evergreen, plus pitch. If you've ever used pine needles as kindling, you'll easily believe this video.

Seaboe
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 05 December 2012, 06:14 PM
ToadMagnet's Avatar
ToadMagnet ToadMagnet is offline
 
Join Date: 19 April 2004
Location: Virginia
Posts: 1,918
Default

Extreme Makeover Home Edition had a similar scene for Monday's episode, shot at a firefighting training facility in Texas. But they put the fire out shortly after the tree burned up, showing the damaged walls/floors (I don't think any furniture ignited, but ignition to suppression went by awfully fast so I could have missed it).
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 06 December 2012, 10:59 PM
Mickey Blue's Avatar
Mickey Blue Mickey Blue is offline
 
Join Date: 01 February 2004
Location: Oregon
Posts: 17,577
Default

ETA: It's been a while since I've seen the Mythbusters episode but I seem to remember them having a very difficult time getting the fire going and it felt, to me, like they were just going along with the idea that this can happen easily because it's safer that way.

Don't get me wrong, safety should always be used, nobody wants to be a statistic, but there are less than 300 christmas tree fires per year and many of those are started by outside sources (such as having candles in/near the tree, etc) as opposed to the lights starting the fire. So yeah, while nobody wants to burn their whole family to death because you didn't put your lights on a timer, and safety is always a good thing, the idea that lights commonly (sparking or otherwise) cause Christmas trees to erupt into flames appears to be something of a myth.

Of course, you can more or less eliminate this risk all together by having a live tree (we started doing that just cause it's about as expensive as a dead one (though ours is much smaller), nicer (IMO) and you can plant it outside (if you have the means) afterwards. Failing that you can get a fake one, which often are a bit more than a dead one if you buy it used but, of course, you can use them every year. We got a few used ones and I never really got into them, hence us switching to live, but if fire is a worry that's one more option because lights or no having a very dry pile of tinder sitting in your home is a risk in itself.

As for the OP:

Just to add to the pile I've seen this exact video years ago in fire academy, my understanding it it's a staged video (hence the camera, which really makes no sense otherwise) but doesn't use an accelerant or any other unusual means to make the fire spread so fast.

It's been a while and I'll probably explain it poorly but flashover is when the air heats so high that fire can spontaneously (for lack of a better term) start due to heat alone. You can see this happen at around 37 seconds when the dresser bursts into flames without any obvious flame touching it.

We had a situation a a few academies before the one I went through when they heated the fire in the training building too hot and it flashed and killed a bunch of recruits.

Last edited by Mickey Blue; 06 December 2012 at 11:05 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 07 December 2012, 03:20 PM
Seaboe Muffinchucker's Avatar
Seaboe Muffinchucker Seaboe Muffinchucker is offline
 
Join Date: 30 June 2005
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 14,172
Glasses

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickey Blue View Post
ETA: It's been a while since I've seen the Mythbusters episode but I seem to remember them having a very difficult time getting the fire going and it felt, to me, like they were just going along with the idea that this can happen easily because it's safer that way.
They had a very hard time getting the fire going by letting the lights overheat. However, it lit easily enough to startle them both when the firefighters stepped in, and when they did an experiment by introducing a short to the light strings.

The 'myth' they were busting was not how fast trees burn, it was whether your tree would burn if you merely used too many lights. Both of them agreed that using old lights, or too many for the electrical circuit was very dangerous.

Seaboe
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 14 January 2013, 07:22 AM
Troberg Troberg is offline
 
 
Join Date: 04 November 2005
Location: Borlänge, Sweden
Posts: 11,406
Default

Another data point:

An internet aquintance of mine did some science on his old Christmas tree when throing it out, just to see what would happen.

Here's the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=0RlcaNeP99M

Short summary: You do not want that to happen indoors.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Even Snopes.com weighs in on Christmas tree flap snopes Snopes Spotting 0 14 November 2011 08:34 PM
Tales from a Christmas Tree Vendor snopes Business 1 28 December 2010 01:54 PM
Obama Christmas tree ornament Jenn Fauxtography 7 30 October 2010 09:55 PM
Car in the living room robbiev Fauxtography 16 30 October 2008 09:39 PM


All times are GMT. The time now is 04:39 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.