What is Fire? How does it spread?
SERVPRO of Atascadero/ Paso Robles explains what fire is, how it spreads, and how to prevent it from making a tragedy of a treasured home.
What is fire?
Fire is a chemical process requiring three essential factors: Oxygen, fuel, and an ignition source. Without these three components, a fire cannot start or will immediately extinguish. When a fire burns, a process called oxidation occurs, wherein oxygen atoms combine with carbon and hydrogen to form carbon dioxide and water; heat and energy is released very quickly. The rate of oxidation is particularly fast with paper and wood, and when heat can’t be released faster than it occurs it creates the phenomena known as fire.
How does it spread?
Once started, a fire is likely to spread until all fuel feeding it has been used to the point of extinction. This could mean devastation for a beloved home or business property. However, understanding the many fuels can assist in preventing the spreading.
Chemicals and combustibles – Lab chemicals, household cleaners, paint, and other such chemicals all cause fire to burn hotter and more aggressively. Common household combustibles include mattresses, newspapers, and various fabrics.
Closed space – Closed spaces will burn up much faster than open space. It will trap the flames and only result in further smoke damage, not to mention creating a tough time for fire fighters trying to eliminate the flame.
Ventilation – Buildings with central heating or air conditioning have ductwork which creates a pathway for smoke and flames to travel between floors.
Water – In some cases, such as grease fires, water will not extinguish the fire, but will help spread it. In this case, a special fire extinguisher or baking soda is best to put out the flame.