Fire. The ability to control fire is a development in human history that is marked as significant. It allowed for the cooking of food which made available a wider range of nutrients to the diet. The heat from the fire provided warmth in cold weather. Conversely, fire has also been used as tool for torture and execution.
So, what is fire? Why does it even start? In the 21st century the ability to start a fire is seen as a survival skill as evidenced on reality TV shows on far flung islands far from civilisation.
Who hasn’t accidentally set off a smoke alarm while starting a fire in a fireplace? Or spent more than ten minutes swearing under your breath while starting a fire on a cold winter’s morning? I know I have. On both accounts.
For a fire to form successfully it needs heat, oxygen and a fuel source in the right proportions combining to form a chain reaction. Fire is oxidation occurring at a rapid rate. Oxidation is when oxygen molecules interact with different substances. For example the rusting of steel is due to the iron coming in contact with oxygen in the presence of water and reacting. The rusting process is slow rate of oxidation.
At the moment, fire is topical. Over the weekend, there were a number of fires in my home city, Perth in Western Australia. At the height of the fire, my home was approximately 10km away from one of the fire fronts. It was a numb feeling when I found out how close my home was to the fire. For years, I have thought that my home in suburbia was safe from fires.
And this is the danger with fires.
It can be intense and very deadly. As I type this the number of houses destroyed stands at 72 and 32 houses damaged, and the fire is still burning, albeit under control. As much as it is frustrating to be in Adelaide while this is happening, (and thank heavens much of the danger has abated), I am finding that when I tell people that I am from visiting from Perth, people are caring and express their sympathy of the tragedy. It is a miracle that no lives were lost.
The City of Perth has launched the Lord Mayor’s Distress Relief Fund for the Perth Hills fire. A donation can be made at ANY BankWest branch or agency to:
- Perth Hills Fire Appeal: BSB 306089 ACCOUNT NUMBER: 277061-5
You can also transfer funds electronically from any bank account. Credit card payments are also being taken over the phone on (08) 9461 3333 during normal business hours. You can also mail your donations in to LMDRF,c/- City of Perth, GPO Box C120, Perth 6839.
Additionally there are also ongoing appeals for two other disasters that occurred in Western Australia in previous months:
- Gascoyne & Mid West Floods Appeal BSB: 306 089 ACCOUNT NUMBER: 275618-6
- Lake Clifton Fire collection: BSB 306 089 ACCOUNT NUMBER: 276246-3