We are all familiar with the images that have emerged from California, Australia and Spain in recent years. Even Canada has experienced some of its worst forest fires since the turn of the century. Clearly, the numbers and geographic scale of forest fires are an indication of climate change. This suggests the problem is likely to become widespread including wildfires, such as we experience in the United Kingdom.

The ancient Greeks had a special place for fire in their understanding of the world. Alongside water, air, earth they formed the four classical elements in Western alchemy. History has portrayed fire in a positive and negative light. Fire was no doubt instrumental in the survival of human beings through the last ice-age. By contrast fire also had its dark side, with religiosity portraying fire as the predominant symbol of Hell, with some historiography suggesting the temperature of Hell is a precise 717.6k.


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