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).

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills.

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