Despite the 10th Circuit Federal Court’s implication that “the long-term, low-temperature ignition theory” of wood is “unreliable,” there is substantial empirical data to support the occurrence of wood fires igniting at well below wood’s commonly recognized ignition temperature. When evaluating a wood fire, temperature is only one factor to include in an analysis. The wood’s form and condition as well as the intensity of the heat source can play a role in starting a fire. A thorough investigation supported by solid data and research can be the best tool an engineer has for clarifying how long-term low-temperature ignition of wood occurs and addressing the issue in litigation matters.

This whitepaper evaluates:

  • The documentation of three real world wood fires.
  • The process of pyrolysis.
  • Seven test fires and the conditions leading to ignition.
  • The importance of continued pyrolysis related data collection
  • The value of real world data vs. test data.