Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fire Started by - Water in a Glass Bowl? It's Possible

"Can a dog bowl start a fire? Test shows idea does hold water"
Seattle Times (May 23, 2009)

"Turns out, blaming a fire on a dog water bowl isn't as goofy as it sounds.

"A Bellevue Fire Department investigator said earlier this week that he suspects a house fire started when a partially filled glass bowl, resting in a wire stand on the home's deck, concentrated the sun's rays like a magnifying glass.

"There was nothing else in that area of the house — no smokers, no electrical devices — that could have caused the fire. The blaze last Sunday destroyed the deck, badly burned the adjacent kitchen — and left some people wondering if the investigator was serious.

" 'People were trying to guess as to whether or not he had lost his mind,' joked Lt. Eric Keenan, the Fire Department's community liaison officer...."

The cause of the fire still isn't officially identified, but a test at the Bellevue city hall showed that, under some conditions, a glass bowl and sunlight could start a fire.

It doesn't take extreme conditions, either. Keenan set up a glass bowl with water on a day when it was 70 degrees and sunny, like the day of the fire. At 1:45 in the afternoon, it took sunlight concentrated by the water and bowl about 15 to ignite cedar.

The fire started about an hour later in the day, and Keenan wasn't sure what sort of wood the deck was made of.

Still, I'll be more aware of things outside that could act as lenses or mirrors.

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