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Fire, Additional Subthemes

Subthemes: Mythology, Records, Expressions

The subthemes of Fire discussed above came to mind from a poem on aging and the embers of love, a painting with an industrial smokestack, a burning, passionate plea for lovemaking, and a movie about a skyscraper ravaged by fire. Here are more subthemes that don’t link so directly to any of the four works of art.

Mythology: Every ancient culture has its incarnation of fire. Greek mythology had Hephaestus, the god of blacksmiths, crafting, fire, and volcanoes; and Hestia, goddess of the hearth and its fires. Egyptian mythology had Ra, fire god of the sun, light, warmth, and growth. Hindus had Agni, the god of fire who also represents the essential energy of life in the universe. In Yoruba mythology, Ogun was the fire god and patron of blacksmiths, iron, warfare, and metal tools; Oya was the goddess of fire and wind; and Shango was the god of thunder and fire, considered the storm-god. One more: Chinese mythology included Zao Shen, the Kitchen God, their goddess of fire. And let’s not forget the phoenix, a mythical eagle-like creature known best for bursting into flame at the end of its life, only to emerge from the ashes as a young phoenix.

Records: We offer you a matchless set of superlatives related to Fire.

*Largest wildfire in modern history – The Black Friday Bushfire in Australia’s Victoria State in January 1939 burned 4.9 million acres and claimed 71 lives.

*Longest burning – A coal seam in New South Wales, Australia, beneath Mt. Wingen, is believed to have started around 5,000 years ago when lightning struck the seam at the surface. Today, the fire burns around 30m (100ft) underground. [Guinness Book of World Records]https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/77295-longest-burning-fire

*Deadliest U.S. fire – The Peshtigo forest fire on Oct. 8, 1871, burned approximately 1.2 million acres and killed 1,500 to 2,500 people. Wikipedia

*Deadliest Wildland Fire for Firefighters – 78 in the Devil’s Broom Wildland Fire, St. Joe Valley, Idaho August 20, 1910. National Fire Protection Association

*Most expensive U.S. fire – Oakland Fire, California, Oct. 20-21, 1991: $2.6 billion as it killed 25 people and devoured 2,843 homes and 433 apartments. Insure

*Most lightning strikes – South America’s largest lake, Lake Maracaibo absorbs an average of 233 flashes per square kilometer every year, thousands per night. Phys Org

*Most arson convictions (serial burner) – Thomas A. Sweatt, a convicted serial arsonist, set over 350 fires in and around Washington, D.C., most of which occurred in 2003 and 2004. Arrested in April 2005, Sweatt admitted to setting fires for more than 30 years. Wikipedia

Expressions: Sometimes a heated topic, Fire has lit many related figurative sayings. For a master list of online sources that have contributed idioms to the various Themes on this blog, see Work Additional Subthemes. For this collection of 65, aside from identifying expressions myself, I drew on The Free Dictionary and SpellZone. Expressions do not include proverbs, such as “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

a ball of fire (hugely energetic or intense person)
a watched pot never boils (waiting for a much desired event seems interminable)
add fuel the fire (intensify a situation or conflict)
all fired up (enthused, positive)
baptism by fire (tested in a new position by difficult or unexpected circumstances)
barn burner (a contest that is exciting and intense)
between two fires (caught in a dilemma)
blaze a trail (do something not done before, pioneer)
breathe fire (extremely angry)
brush fire (minor problem, but must be dealt with)
burn bridges (do something that makes it’s impossible go back to a previous state)
burn the house down (play music so loud and frantic that it frenzies the crowd)
burn yourself out (become exhausted or unwell though overwork)
carry fire in one hand and water in the other (duplicitous and deceiving)
catch fire (generate enthusiasm, go viral)
Chinese fire drill (artificial practice for an emergency)
drink from a fire hose (try to absorb too much information too quickly)
dumpster fire (a chaotic or disastrously mishandled situation)
ears are burning (subconsciously aware that you’re being talked about)
fat hit the fire (reality intrudes in a brutal way)
fight fire with fire (counteract someone’s actions with a similar action)
fire and brimstone (the torments of hell)
fire bug (an arsonist, one who enjoys fires)
fire drill (practice for an emergency)
fire in the hole (a powerful weapon is ready to fire)
fire in your belly (deep ambition to succeed)
fire on all cylinders (run smoothly and at full strength)
fire someone/get fired (tell someone they have lost their job/lose your job)
fire someone/something up (encourage them or start an engine)
fired-up (enthusiastic, stimulated, energized)
firewater (alcohol)
five-alarm fire (the most serious emergency)
fuel the fire (stimulate or exacerbate a bad situation)
get on like a house on fire (like each other immensely)
go through fire and water (endure trials and tribulations)
go up in smoke (come to nothing, in reference to a plan or idea)
have a short fuse (impatient, quick to respond angrily)
heap coals of fire on someone (lambaste them, harshly criticize them)
hold someone’s feet to the fire (force a person to do what they must do)
keep the home fires burning (maintain domestic order while soldiers fight abroad)
light a fire under someone (strongly encourage them to act)
like a house afire (make quick and noteworthy progress on a project)
lit his hair on fire (frantically excited someone)
lots of irons in the fire (have many activities going on simultaneously)
money burning a hole in your pocket (have money that you are tempted spend)
no smoke without fire (if signs point to trouble, there is probably trouble)
on fire (excited, on a roll)
ordeal by fire (difficult obstacles to overcome to survive)
play with fire (take a foolish risk)
pour fuel on the fire (worsen a situation by your actions)
pull someone’s bacon/chestnuts out of the fire (save someone from trouble)
put out fires (deal with modest problems that might worsen)
put that in your pipe and smoke it (think about this unfortunate fact)
scorched earth policy (destroy everything in conflict)
set the heather/Thames/woods on fire (do remarkable acts)
set the world on fire (do something remarkable or sensational)
slow burn (gradually mounting anger)
smoke and mirrors (obscuring the truth using misdirection)
smoke like a chimney (smoke nonstop (in reference tobacco smoking)
smoldering anger (covered up animosity that worsens as it is not expressed)
smoldering looks (sexy glances and stares)
stamp a fire out (stop a minor problem that might grow)
tire fire (complete and utter disaster or a completely chaotic situation)
warm as toast (comfy in the cold)
where’s the fire (question asked of a person in a frantic mood)

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