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Fun Facts About Lighting Matches

David Rees marvels at survival expert Shane Hobel's fire building skills.

Fun Facts About Lighting Matches (View larger version)

Photograph by True Entertainment

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  • In the 1800s match factory workers were susceptible to “phossy jaw” – a painful, condition caused by exposure to white phosphorus. Phossy jaw was lethal in approximately 20% of cases.

  • Austrian chemist Anton von Schrötter discovered red phosphorus in 1845.

  • The practice of collecting matchbooks and match-related things is known as "phillumeny."

  • Scientists estimate there are 100 lighting strikes on earth every second. That’s more than 8 million per day!

  • About 90% of all wildfires in the United States are caused by humans.

  • Every year, there are approximately 100,000 wildfires in the United States.

  • Large wildfires create their own weather patterns, creating vast pyrocumulus clouds that produce dangerous, powerful gusts of wind.

  • Joshua Pusey, an attorney in Philadelphia, patented the first book matches in 1892. He called them “flexible matches.”

  • The Great Fire of London in 1666 began on 2nd September in Pudding Lane and ended on September 7th. Thirteen thousands houses were destroyed.

  • Crown fires are the most dangerous and destructive type of wildfire. Aided by high winds, they spread across the tree tops. Crown fires can spread speeds exceeding 10 miles per hour.

  • Archaeologists studying caves in South Africa have found evidence that our ancestors’ controlled use of fire dates back to at least one million years.
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