How does fire spread? How do different forest materials fuel it? How can firefighters better understand its behavior in order to control it? Why is the physics of fire so counter-intuitive and mysterious to us?
At The Fire Lab in Missoula, Montana, highly-trained researchers conduct controlled tests with wind tunnels, fire-whirl generators, and giant combustion chambers to reverse-engineer fire. High-speed camera technology records everything and allows them to analyze each detail. Their mission: “improve the safety and effectiveness of fire management by creating and disseminating the basic fire science knowledge, tools, and applications for scientists and managers.”
Related reading from May 2013: Archaeologists Find Earliest Evidence of Humans Cooking With Fire.