Urban Fires – Part 1

In part one of this two-part episode, firefighter Allan Newell returns to discuss the science and classification of fire, the Great Fire of Rome, the Great Fire of London, the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, Coconut Grove fire and the Great Fire of Meireki.

Music: “Hotter Than Hell” by Fletcher Henderson



Backdraft/Smoke Explosion


14 Responses

  1. Is part two going to have a bit on the painfully-recent, still-under-investigation Kiss nightclub fire? Please say yes! 😀

  2. As a child, you may have recognized me as a pyro due to my sometimes lack of eyebrows or the smell of burnt arm hair. This Episode was fantastic at reminding me of all the things I did, but shouldn’t have done, with fire.

    On another note. I find the change in perspective of death to be fascinating. The Triangle shirtwaist tragedy is a good example of what I’m trying to say. If you look up other pictures on the tragedy you will find a small handful of them to be photos of the dead and of individuals looking at the dead. nowadays, if that were to happen in a similar manner, people would be covering the bodies and/or hiding them from pubic view. Is it because society has found a whole new respect for those who have died or is it out of fear?

    1. I think it has something to do with the fact that photography wasn’t so ubiquitous that you knew these images would be immortalized and splashed all over the place. So, there was a lot less care and attention given to dead bodies. Remember, this is the era that tabloids would spend big money to get graphic photos of dead gangsters, and photogrpahers would get there before the police sometimes.

  3. Quick question: water injection systems in cars work (I think) because the combustion is so hot, the hydrogen and oxygen elements of the water are ripped apart and combust. How hot does a fire have to get for that to happen?

      1. Some rather shoddy napkin math (I haven’t done this in years!) tells me you’d need at least 6000K / 11.000ºF to get there.

        Anyone who’s studied chemistry in college should be able to give you a better answer, tho.

  4. Holy cow. The music clips at the end of this episode totally took me back a few decades.

    Awesome podcast. New listener. Can’t wait to catch up. 🙂

  5. I’ve never laughed so hard while listening to something so utterly horrifying in my entire life as when Toren read the account of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire…I’m feeling very conflicted.