When discussing survival, we often focus on how to start a fire, rather than how to extinguish one. However, it’s important to know both techniques inside and out, as things can get out of control very quickly if you don’t know what to do.

This is demonstrated by the following YouTube video of a man from Japan on a live-stream webcam testing a lighter in his home. He can’t get it going at first, and refills it with lighter fluid. Then, when he strikes it again, the entire lighter bursts into flames and is dropped into a trash bag. In seconds, the trash bag is engulfed.

It’s easy to look at this video and consider all the missed opportunities to put out the fire, but remember that when panic sets in, we don’t always think straight. So, what can we learn from this video?

  • This fire starts as a Class B, or flammable liquid fire. Due to the abundance of lighter fluid as fuel, it grew rapidly. These fires can get out of control very quickly.
  • Although throwing the striker into the trash was a reflex response, it only provided more fuel for the fire.
  • Moving the trash bag close to a wall only served to spread the fire. If you start a fire in an enclosed space, don’t move it!
  • The amount of water required to put out a fire is usually more than you’d expect, especially when dealing with flammable liquids. Attempting to fill and throw buckets of water is usually a lost cause, especially with this size of fire.
  • Beating the fire seemed to work at first, but smothering it to reduce the oxygen supply would have been a much better choice.
  • Above all, ALWAYS have a fire extinguisher in your home and/or vehicle, and make sure it is easily accessible and properly maintained. You may think this couldn’t happen to you, or that you’d make wiser fire safety choices, but in an emergency, nothing trumps a real fire extinguisher.

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