At what temperature does a forest fire burn?

In an article we quoted earlier, a reporter wrote that forest fires burn at 4,000°F. We didn’t want you to be left with that impression, so here is more accurate information provided by Natural Resources Canada:

An average surface fire on the forest floor might have flames reaching 1 metre in height and can reach temperatures of 800°C (1,472°F) or more. Under extreme conditions a fire can give off 10,000 kilowatts or more per metre of fire front. This would mean flame heights of 50 metres or more and flame temperatures exceeding 1200°C (2,192°F).

The flash point, or the temperature at which wood will burst into flame, is 572°F, according to HowStuffWorks.

American Elk prescribed fire; Photo by Bill Gabbert

Photo by Bill Gabbert

And if you want to talk about high temperatures, the surface of the sun is 6,000°C (11,000°F). The cooler dark-colored sunspots are only 4,000°C (7,000°F). The core of the sun is a little warmer: 15,000,000°C (27,000,000°F).

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About Bill Gabbert

Wildland fire has been a major part of Bill Gabbert’s life for several decades. After growing up in the south, he migrated to southern California where he lived for 20 years, working as a wildland firefighter. Later he took his affinity for firefighting to Indiana and eventually the Black Hills of South Dakota where he was the Fire Management Officer for a group of seven national parks. Today he is the creator and owner of and Sagacity Wildfire Services and serves as an expert witness in wildland fire. If you are interested in wildland fire, welcome… grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up. Google+