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bombergirl69
04-15-2015, 06:16 PM
So, I need two fires actually. The first is survived by the MC during her childhood but leaves interesting scars and the second is the one the MC faces to take care of the antagonist.

Here is what I know about fire. It burns uphill (outdoors anyway). It needs fuel. I need to stay away from fire (have own issues with fire which of course is why the MC is dealing with it!)

In fire A, I need the fire to be lit from the outside and burn the bedroom in which the MC is sleeping, have some thing fall on the MC, pinning her, and have the smoke so thick she can't see or breathe much (but she is rescued).

In fire B, antagonist starts fire with trail of gasoline to area where she is. But she needs to survive it, so needs enough time to do that.

I had a client tell me that when he first got back from VN he fought the fantasy to pour a trail of gas to some car, then set it off just to see it blow up. How long does that take? Is it survivable?

When one is rescued, what kinds of things do they check for? Smoke inhalation? how do they do that? Burns?

For my story (I am NOT writing an medical thriller but certainly want what I do write to be accurate), I need to her to have quite a scar up the back of her arm, and, given that she was pregnant, to lose her kid. Realistic? Injuries her rescuer might have (also survives).

Any good resources/site recommendations?

And traces of accelerant - would there be stains anywhere?

Curious about this (and yes, if my computer were ever confiscated and they looked for recent searches....)

King Neptune
04-15-2015, 06:42 PM
So, I need two fires actually. The first is survived by the MC during her childhood but leaves interesting scars and the second is the one the MC faces to take care of the antagonist.

Here is what I know about fire. It burns uphill (outdoors anyway). It needs fuel. I need to stay away from fire (have own issues with fire which of course is why the MC is dealing with it!)

In fire A, I need the fire to be lit from the outside and burn the bedroom in which the MC is sleeping, have some thing fall on the MC, pinning her, and have the smoke so thick she can't see or breathe much (but she is rescued).

This is possible, but the details of where to start the fire would depend on the shape and construction of the house. Things don't usually start falling until the fire is well advanced; well beyond the point of someone being overcome by smoke. Most fire victims die of asphyxiation long before the heat cooks them; although inhaling hot smoke can do damage to the lungs and is often one of the causes of death. So don't bother with something falling on the character.


In fire B, antagonist starts fire with trail of gasoline to area where she is. But she needs to survive it, so needs enough time to do that.

I had a client tell me that when he first got back from VN he fought the fantasy to pour a trail of gas to some car, then set it off just to see it blow up. How long does that take? Is it survivable?It is said that a gasoline fire moves faster than a car can go, but I don't know that for sure. Even with a gasoline fire starting that way it is unlikely that a car would blow up, but it would burn, and cars fires can be fast and hot. It probably would be survivable.


When one is rescued, what kinds of things do they check for? Smoke inhalation? how do they do that? Burns?

For my story (I am NOT writing an medical thriller but certainly want what I do write to be accurate), I need to her to have quite a scar up the back of her arm, and, given that she was pregnant, to lose her kid. Realistic? Injuries her rescuer might have (also survives).Burns and smoke inhalation would be likely. You can give the character whatever injuries you want.


Any good resources/site recommendations? Use google, and you will find lots of information, more than you will be able to use.


And traces of accelerant - would there be stains anywhere?

Traces are sometimes found, and I often wonder how, because they are looking at things that have been completely burned. If the fire is put out quickly there will be a smell of gasoline, but a house that burns to ashes will provide very little information about the cause of the fire.


Curious about this (and yes, if my computer were ever confiscated and they looked for recent searches....)There are plenty of discussions about various ways to kill people on this board.

chompers
04-15-2015, 06:51 PM
The cause of death in fires is usually not the actual fire, but from smoke inhalation. And it's scary how fast a fire will spread, along with the smoke.

There's an episode of 48 Hours about a woman who murdered her husband by setting the bedroom on fire while he slept. The details aren't exactly like your story, but there are some similarities and it does go into some explanation about the forensics that might help you.

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/death-without-mercy/

Xelebes
04-15-2015, 08:47 PM
Traces are sometimes found, and I often would how, because they are looking at things that have been completely burned. If the fire is put out quickly there will be a smell of gasoline, but a house that burns to ashes will provide very little information about the cause of the fire.

The thing about gasoline or other accelerants is that they are often not pure or don't burn purely. So in the ash, you can tell where the accelerant was laid. Perhaps in the ash, you would find trace amounts of sulphur, cyanides, manganates (Australia or Canada) and such if you are looking at gasoline.

cmhbob
04-15-2015, 08:57 PM
I'll warn you now that the science of fire investigation has changed quite a bit in the last 20 years or so. What was commonly accepted in the 90s has been disproven recently. For example, it was once thought that the crazing of glass in a fire proved that it was a high-temp fire, and that an accelerant was used. Then they found out that any hot glass hit with cold water during firefighting will craze. Likewise, burn patterns don't necessarily indicate where an accelerant was used.

bombergirl69
04-15-2015, 09:18 PM
OMG THANK YOU! (and what a horrible story about the guy beig burned in his bed, thans for that link!

So, I will remove any thing faling. What I need is:

MC wakes up, very hot, flames moving up post in bedroom to curtains, thick heavy smoke, choking (bc of curtains), disorienting, can't see, struggling to breathe (not sure how fire would move around bedroom) but I think fire goes UP (curtains, etc) rather than across carpeting?

rescuer comes (she can't see but knows who it is), pulls her out drags her down hall, carries her out. She = no skin grafts but big scar, rescuer = burned but recovered hands (plausible?).

And she was pregnant but loses kid.

Fire starter = 11 year old so NOT a forensic specialist, NOT a career criminal but someone who knew where her room was.

Plausible?

THings are flexible, so can change the details. This is not about the fire investigation.

In the second scenario, she is (initially) restrained, antagonist (grown kid from fire A) means to get it right this time,so plans to use rapid accelerant (gas?) to get it done.

Again, plausible? ;)

King Neptune
04-15-2015, 09:44 PM
The thing about gasoline or other accelerants is that they are often not pure or don't burn purely. So in the ash, you can tell where the accelerant was laid. Perhaps in the ash, you would find trace amounts of sulphur, cyanides, manganates (Australia or Canada) and such if you are looking at gasoline.

I was thinking about trace chemicals, and there may be some, but I wonder if the concentrations would necessarily be significantly above the normal amount. After all, the additives are designed to burn, so they wouldn't be left in great quantities.

If I were an arsonist, gasoline wouldn't be my preferred accelerant.

King Neptune
04-15-2015, 09:58 PM
OMG THANK YOU! (and what a horrible story about the guy beig burned in his bed, thans for that link!

So, I will remove any thing falling. What I need is:

MC wakes up, very hot, flames moving up post in bedroom to curtains, thick heavy smoke, choking (bc of curtains), disorienting, can't see, struggling to breathe (not sure how fire would move around bedroom) but I think fire goes UP (curtains, etc) rather than across carpeting?

Could the fire have started in a pile of scrap wood or trash or similar near her bedroom? Depending on construction a fire from something like that could be fairly local and burn through as you want it to. And yes the fire would go up the curtains rather than through the carpet. All the smoke and heat would be rising, so she could get on the floor and crawl away.


rescuer comes (she can't see but knows who it is), pulls her out drags her down hall, carries her out. She = no skin grafts but big scar, rescuer = burned but recovered hands (plausible?).

And she was pregnant but loses kid.

Fire starter = 11 year old so NOT a forensic specialist, NOT a career criminal but someone who knew where her room was.

Plausible?

THings are flexible, so can change the details. This is not about the fire investigation.This is quite plausible. You might want to read some accounts of people in house fires being rescued.


In the second scenario, she is (initially) restrained, antagonist (grown kid from fire A) means to get it right this time,so plans to use rapid accelerant (gas?) to get it done.

Again, plausible? ;)This is also plausible, but burning someone in a hous fire is not an efficient way to kill someone. But he is supposed to fail, so that's fine.

bombergirl69
04-15-2015, 10:15 PM
Again, thanks so much! Yes, if heat rises then she can be rescued from room. And I guess an eleven year old could figure out how to use a pile of scrap outside her room and touch it off. Particuarly if he has watched peope burn their pastures every year.

i would prefer NOT to use fire a second time but I was thinking she's now scared of fire, so probably not a bad way to really get a trial by fire and take care of business!

chompers
04-15-2015, 10:16 PM
Yes, heat rises, but the bigger concern will be the smoke (although of course the fire will be an issue too).

Video of a fire:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_eHBqVYa8A

More:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqMVm72FMRk

Notice how fast it spreads and the amount of smoke.

King Neptune
04-15-2015, 10:50 PM
Those videos show good reasons to get rid of upholstery. Just use plain steel chairs.

King Neptune
04-15-2015, 10:55 PM
Again, thanks so much! Yes, if heat rises then she can be rescued from room.

She could be rescued if she rolls to the floor as soon as the fire starts and she crawls out of the room.


And I guess an eleven year old could figure out how to use a pile of scrap outside her room and touch it off. Particuarly if he has watched peope burn their pastures every year.

i would prefer NOT to use fire a second time but I was thinking she's now scared of fire, so probably not a bad way to really get a trial by fire and take care of business!

Using scrap and having an ignorant kid start it could make it more plausible. If she noticed some noise from outside, looked, and saw a fire starting; that would allow her time to get out alive. If you need her injured and to lose the baby, then she could try to put the fire out.

jclarkdawe
04-16-2015, 12:43 AM
First problem is a fire outside the room isn't much of an issue for a while. The fire would have to burn through the walls before it becomes a problem, and this takes some time, depending upon what the construction of the house is.

But kids younger than 11 have intentionally started structure fires, so we can give the kid a lot of knowledge. I'm presuming he's trying to harm your character. Have it be summer, with her window up and a screen in it. Any decent knife will cut most screening. He cuts the screening, and then drops a bag filled with crumbled newspapers in the room, next to the curtains. That should be enough to get the curtains going, which should let the fire get to sustainable level.

Now as the heat in the room builds up, the heat and smoke will rise. Some heat and smoke will escape from the open window. How this will work will depend upon whether she keeps her door shut or not. Door shut is worse. That way ventilation is limited.

As the heat and smoke rise, layers will be created, with different temperatures, hottest at the highest level. Smoke will also be thickest at the ceiling, and the floor may be clear.

She will not wake from the heat. By that point she'll be dead from smoke inhalation. Have something fall onto the floor, like a picture hanging on the wall or something on her bureau. She'll sit up in bed, putting herself into hotter, smokier air.

All she'll be able to see is maybe some glowing in the smoke. She will not be able to see her hand in front of her face. Most people will panic and start making the wrong decisions.

What you need to do is roll out of your bed and drop to the floor, practically kissing it. That's where the best air will be. Most people will try standing. They're going to be the dead ones. As you inhale smoke, both the panic and lack of oxygen will cause poor thought patterns. Most kids under 15 will panic and head for their closet, under the bed, or the toy box. This is why children do not survive fires.

Fire department approach for a single room being on fire in a house is an interior attack. You go through the front door and attack from inside the house, blowing the fire out the window. We go into the room with a spray pattern, which pushes the fire and smoke away from us and out the window. Two fire fighters would man the hose, while two more would conduct a search (her parents would have notified the fire department that she was in there). We know where kids hide. Many of us have found kids who tried hiding with poor results.

Chances of a non-fire fighter finding her are slim.

Caveat is that if she paid attention when the fire department comes to her school she stands a chance. We tell kids to get down low, crawl for the window or door (notice that she's got to make the right choice as to which way she goes with little information to tell her which is the right choice).

Fire will be noticeable from the exterior and I'd use that to get an alarm going. Unless she has a smoke detector in her room, by the time it goes off, she's going to be dead. Response needs to be very quick here. Fire fighters talk about seconds matter. And this is the type of situation in which they do.

Burns are nasty and painful and very probable. Any serious burns and she's going to be transferred to a special hospital. Scarring is permanent.

I think I've covered everything, but if I haven't, feel free to ask.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

bombergirl69
04-16-2015, 04:14 AM
Wow, that is extremely helpful and thank you! Just great information and not only from my novel's perspective!

Given that scenario, kid drops bag of newspapers in - how long to get curtains going and so forth?

If she DOES stay low, and breathing, and is found, are burns along her arms plausible? Second degree burns? Burns NOT requiring skin grafts but still, a long recovery?
Would her rescuer, if he COULD find her, also suffer second degree burns? Unlikely (his would be worse?)

What kind of inhalation problems do people develop? Stupid question but do they have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning? do they test for that?

And yes, it IS summer (unfortunately for my story but great for the fire!) so that will work!

Im really interested in the panic response you mentioned. Is any of that heat related? The one and only (but very scary) panic attack I have had was my first time in a sweat lodge (pitch black, fully enclosed with lots of people, and very hot - no fire but they pour water on very hot rocks, so steam). I have never felt my heart beat so fast and I was totally panicked (and that never happens, and in fact, has not happened since, not like that anyway). I couldn't breathe - awful. I had not thought of that with fire in an enclosed space as well. Interesting.

And again, thanks for the very helpful info!

jclarkdawe
04-16-2015, 06:46 AM
Wow, that is extremely helpful and thank you! Just great information and not only from my novel's perspective!

Given that scenario, kid drops bag of newspapers in - how long to get curtains going and so forth?

Depends upon the material, but probably less than a minute. The fire will climb up the curtains. Material will start fragmenting and the pieces will start landing and causing new fires to start.

If she DOES stay low, and breathing, and is found, are burns along her arms plausible? Second degree burns? Burns NOT requiring skin grafts but still, a long recovery?

Most likely she'll go for a fetal position, with her arms wrapped around either her head or legs. One arm will be underneath her, and one arm exposed. That arm will likely have burns. She'd also likely have burns on her upper leg, and rib cage. Legs and rib cage will have fabric mixed with the burn.

Skin grafting is more cosmetic. All burn treatment is painful and long recovery. Debridement is usually necessary. Pain is massive, and usually controlled with morphine. Notice the use of the word "controlled." Even with morphine, you're going to be screaming.

Would her rescuer, if he COULD find her, also suffer second degree burns? Unlikely (his would be worse?)

Rescuer could have burns. But here's the problem the rescuer faces. If her bedroom door is closed, when the door is open, the fire will shoot out with almost explosive force. This is caused by the fact that the bedroom will have high pressure from the heat (heat expands air) and the hallway will be a lower pressure.

A fire fighter will kneel at the side of the door to open it, with a hose ready to go. As soon as the door is open, you hit it with spray to force the hot air away from the hallway. Fire can be driven with water.

If you're standing when the door is open, especially standing in the normal position to open a door, you're going to be badly burned in the face before being knocked on your ass.

What kind of inhalation problems do people develop? Stupid question but do they have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning? do they test for that?

Long term or short term? Short term, smoke has two separate problems. First is oxygen is in short supply, as the fire consumes all of the oxygen that it can. Second is the byproducts of burning are carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Both carbon monoxide and dioxide enter the blood stream easier than oxygen.

Humans need a very narrow range of oxygen to survive. Too much or too little and initially brain function decreases. Soon you're dead.

Treatment is supplying oxygen. Simple test is listening to the lungs. If you have had a look of smoke in your lungs, you'll cough up black spit for a while as your lungs try to clear themselves.

Unless she swallowed super-heated air, smoke inhalation is something you die from immediately, or usually recover from. Big risk for long term is pneumonia. Diagnosis is from lung sounds, supported by an x-ray.

And yes, it IS summer (unfortunately for my story but great for the fire!) so that will work!

Im really interested in the panic response you mentioned. Is any of that heat related? The one and only (but very scary) panic attack I have had was my first time in a sweat lodge (pitch black, fully enclosed with lots of people, and very hot - no fire but they pour water on very hot rocks, so steam). I have never felt my heart beat so fast and I was totally panicked (and that never happens, and in fact, has not happened since, not like that anyway). I couldn't breathe - awful. I had not thought of that with fire in an enclosed space as well. Interesting.

It's probably the combination of lack of visual cues, heat, and oxygen deprivation. Probably depending upon the person which is the biggest factor. Steam interferes with your breathing, although in different ways than smoke.

And again, thanks for the very helpful info!

One of the best descriptions of fires and being in fires is REPORT FROM ENGINE COMPANY 82, written by a New York City firefighter twenty or thirty years ago.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

bombergirl69
04-16-2015, 02:38 PM
Thank you so much for this (and the work that you do!) So helpful and wow, good for everyone to know (really interesting that part about trying to rescue people in an area with closed doors). Thanks!!

fyrefyghter33
04-17-2015, 05:17 AM
This video probably shows what happens in an average room with just a small fire in a trash can.

About three mintues and the whole room is engulfed. At the two minute mark the room flashes (flashover) that's when everything in the room reaches ignition temperature and ignites. The chances of your MC surviving in the room where the fire starts is very slim.

The rescue team that enter building to look for victims are typically truckies (Truck Companies). They go in with hand tools and no means of fire suppression. That is left to the engine companies.

A common misconception is that the smoke will wake you. It won't. the fire will not wake you either. Only a smoke detector will do this.

I hope this helps, pardon my bad grammar i did this post on my phone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piofZLySsNc