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a teacher in high school finally explained it to me, but it has still retained the mystery it had in seventh grade. i don't want to know why fire is or how it is. it's a primal miracle, as far as i'm concerned.
When my brother and I were still in elementary school we were extreme pyromaniacs. To us, fire was the pinacle of chemical reactions. We would light small fires on the drive way just to see if we could contain them. Sadly, things did not end there. We discovered gasoline and its combusting properties.
We went inside to get an old butter tub (the old yellow ones) so that we could fill the bottom of it with gas and light it on fire. This proved to be successful and it was pretty cool. Of course, we had to push it to the limit (cue song!). We used the same tub, only this time we filled it to the brim with gasoline.
We decided the driveway was not the place for an experiment of this magnitude. Nope. This time we would go to the clearing in the woods. It had rained the day before so I figured all of the wet leaves would have provided us with some safety.
We lit the gas on fire and stared in amazement at the nearly 8' flames that emerged from the little plastic container. We quickly realized the folley of our experiment. The plastic tub began to melt and the gas began to spill out onto the floor of the forest. We paniced and tried putting it out with water but it wasn't working. I tried covering the flames in dirt but it wasn't working either. We tried smothering the fire with shovels but that turned into another disaster. My brother leaned over a flame and it burned his face pretty badly. I poured water on his face as soon as I saw and right at this time all of the neighbors had come over and were putting out the flames and my brother and I were rushed to our house. I remember being put into the shower with our clothes on blasted with freezing cold water. My dad had to come home from work and take my brother to the hospital. We were punished pretty severely. Now we don't play with fire.