This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The matter of the origin and prevention of fires, is a question of particular interest to horticulturists. The following, which we find in the Journal of Chemistry, is to the point: "This seems a queer notion, but it is made quite plausible by a recent English writer, who says: "When oxide of iron is placed in contact with timber, excluded from the atmosphere, and aided by a slightly increased temperature, the oxide parts with its oxygen, is converted into very finely divided particles of metallic iron, having such an affinity for oxygen that, when afterwards exposed to the action of the atmosphere from any cause, oxygen is absorbed so rapidly that these particles become suddenly red-hot, and, if in sufficient quantity, will produce a temperature far beyond the ignitible point of dry timber. Wherever iron pipes are employed for the circulation of any heated medium (whether hot water, hot air, or steam), and wherever these pipes are allowed to become rusty, and are also in close contact with timber, it is only necessary to suppose that under these circumstances the finely-divided particles of metallic iron become exposed to the action of the atmosphere (and this may occur from the mere expansion or contraction of the pipes), in order to account for many of the fires which periodically take place at the commencement of the winter season."