How hot does a house fire get?

Hot enough to melt many kinds of metal.

Firemen use the term “flashover”, to identify the temperature where everything in a room bursts into flame, even though the actual fire might previously have been confined to a small area. The flashover point is a function of the materials (draperies, upholstery, furniture, etc.) in the room. It is typically somewhere between 900 degrees F. and 1100 degrees F.

That is why you see firemen breaking out windows, and chopping holes in a roof. They are not vandalizing the building or home. They are trying to vent the hot gases, thus keeping a room below flashover. After waiting for an outrush or upwelling of hot gases, they then work to extinguish the flames which produced that heat.

If a fire is not vented, either by natural causes or explosive pressure or by someone breaking necessary openings, the internal temperatures can become very high. They can rise to 1800 or 2000 degrees F. That is enough to soften steel, melt glass, fuse plastic, and make living creatures (pets, babies, etc.) expire from heat stroke even if they are not directly burned.

That is also why firemen do not automatically rush into a burning building, to save people and pets. They have to judge whether the internal temperatures are low enough for their protective clothing and gear to withstand them, and for their breathing equipment to function well enough to keep them alive. Otherwise, rushing in for a rescue would be an act of suicide.

So if you ever have a fire inside your home, you should not stand there heroically fighting it. The internal temperature of your house can spike up very quickly, way sooner than you could put out the blaze. One of the most terrifying experiences one can encounter would be to have everything around you suddenly burst into flame.

Also, because temperatures can rise so rapidly, you must take advantage of the few seconds you have, to get grandma and your dog Jake, out of the house. Despite their protests. Just a few seconds can make the difference between life and death in a house fire. Get your kids, old people, pets, and yourself (in that order) out of the house as fast as possible. That is much more important than you trying to save the property. Let it burn. Probably covered by insurance anyway.

Of course, with everyone safe you have to make sure that someone has called the Fire Department, or make the call yourself.


Mr. Kent Aldershof has a very good answer and his facts and figures are pretty spot on. With the advent of synthetic materials and more and more being used in home furnishings and products, fire temperatures have become hotter and fire grow faster than they did 50–60 years ago. Synthetics (plastics and their derivatives) have made products cheaper to manufacture and sell, they are more dangerous in fires due to heat produciton and chemical gas production.

So, yes a house fire can get to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit rather quickly. By opening roofs or certain windows, we can control the flow path of superheated gases and slow the progression of fires, as well as alow for proper extinguishment.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Underwriters Labratory (UL), specifically UL Fire Safety Research Institute, have done some great work in studying and experimenting with fire dynamics, suppression tactics, and manpower.

This link: Close Before You Doze will show the great advantage of sleeping with your bedroom door closed and how it can save lives.

The next link below will tke you to numerous videos and studies by NIST. Probably the most viewed is the viseo from 2009 showing the fire growth in modern construction versus “legacy” construction.

Hard to give an average temperature as the temperature is different at different levels. Hottest is at the ceiling and the lowest is on the floor. That’s why you should crawl on the floor to get out of a burning structure if there is smoke overhead. It can be 100 deg F at floor level but 600 deg F at eye level. Ceiling temperature can be 900 To 1100 deg F or higher depending on what is burning and how long it’s been burning.

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