General Question

AlyxCaitlin's avatar

How long does it take for someone to die when caught on fire?

Asked by AlyxCaitlin (933points) August 20th, 2009

I was watching the first “Final Destination” and during the scene where you watch Alex Brownings’ dream he is engulfed in flames. I was pondering “how long would it take for someone to die? Or do they suffer for quite a while?”

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28 Answers

cyn's avatar

I guess it depends on how long your body can handle the heat…
With a fire, I say that’s a pretty harsh way to die.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

When people were burned at the stake, they often died due to the smoke inhalation before their bodies were consumed by the flames. In that respect, you’d have to take into account, how long it would take the flames to build to sufficient size to generate enough smoke for a person to suffocate. That would be a very long time to be on fire.

eponymoushipster's avatar

Depends. If they were an alcoholic, 3 days or so.

marinelife's avatar

Also, whether an accelerant was used.

Grisaille's avatar

Is this person in a closed room or, say, a parking lot?

AlyxCaitlin's avatar

Airplane; he was in an airplane. So an inclosed room I’d say or what about a parking lot?

Grisaille's avatar

Are any windows open, is the cabin pressure normal?

Quagmire's avatar

I think there are way too many variables to give an answer. It would depend on the size of the flame (think how fast someone would die if they were standing below a rocket at takeoff), the intensity of the flame, the size of the room, the amount of oxygen and fuel, what parts of the body were burned (you’d expect a slower death if the flames started at the feet then if the flames were at the chest), whether or not there was an accompanying explosion, yada, yada, yada.

SeventhSense's avatar

Ask Thích Quảng Đức
An amazing enlightened master.
His body died but his balls were brass

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

Fire hurt. Bad death. Many minutes.

bea2345's avatar

According to the experts death by fire is one of the most atrocious there is. The suffering might be brief but it is agonizing.

Darwin's avatar

No matter how long it would take it would be too long.

SeventhSense's avatar

@bea2345
Unless of course you can leave the localized energy field known as the body…

mistered's avatar

I’m pretty sure you stay alive for a little bit. Eventually it burns all of your nerve endings and you go into shock so you don’t feel it anymore but i would imagine that takes a bit.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

ok, in the interest of not over analyzing.

if some one’s cover in gasoline and lit on fire (in which they die from the fire, without passing out from smoke)

we’ll just say this, it hurts more than you’ve ever been hurt and those seconds go like hours.

YARNLADY's avatar

Some people, it takes several days after total immolation. There some people who have actually survived having their entire body set on fire. There is no finite answer, but it depends of the amount of burn, the overall heath and age of the vicitm and so on. Please do not make light of this type if injury. If you ever have been severely burned or worked in a burn unit, as I have, you would not lightly ask.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Take a cigarette (or a cigar) and put it out in the crook of your arm (inner elbow) and then imagine that all over. :::shudder:::

Burning has to be the very worst way to die. That’s why I have changed my will to prevent my body from being cremated. Just in case I am not really dead, but just paralyzed and in a coma. Green funeral all the way, baby!

markyy's avatar

This might sound like a stupid question but how long can you hold your breath? I have no clue how long I would survive being engulfed in flames, but those flames would probably use all oxygen around me. I can hold my breath for a little over 2 minutes, wouldn’t I just slowly suffocate when I run out of air? Do flames engulf you for that long though? Or doest the body kind of ignore the suffocating because of adrenaline,shock,whatever?

cookieman's avatar

for the record, this thread is truly disturbing me

wundayatta's avatar

According to Wikipedia, it can be a short time (suffocation from carbon monoxide poisoning within minutes—if it’s a big fire), up to a couple of hours, as various lower parts of the body are burned before the person dies (using a small fire).

YARNLADY's avatar

To amend my comment above @YARNLADY, I have often wondered the same thing when watching a movie or TV show where the actor walks all over the place while completely on fire.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

has anyone mentioned the possibility of passing out due to sheer pain? I think if the smoke inhalation doesn’t get you, there’s only so much agony your brain can take before it just puts you to sleep. Honestly unless it was something like a small camp fire sort of deal, I imagine being engulfed in flames would be terrible enough for a certain duration where your mind just shuts you off.

SeventhSense's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs
The question is what is the mind and if you understand it can you shut it off.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

you’re unconscious, it’s the same effect when you’re drowning, see something gory, get extremely scared, etc. you pass out because you’re body is attempting to preserve itself.

SeventhSense's avatar

I think so. But I also believe it’s possible to do so completely conscious.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

I don’t even know what you’re trying to say.

SeventhSense's avatar

See my link about the Buddhist monk above. That is truly a super human feat. That is an extraordinary act that is incomprehensible to the average person. That one could light themselves on fire and sit in perfect repose. This is someone who through great discipline has learned to remove the consciousness that experiences pain yet still control the body from running pell-mell from the heat.

christopherscum's avatar

my girlfriend of 20 years died when a gasoline tanker rear ended us. i could save her. i fell out of car and by the time i got back in she was totally engulfed in flamed. it was fast and i spent 2 months in the burn unit but i don’t know how much pain she went through. This happen june 27th
http://wate.com/2015/07/25/benefit-concert-raises-money-for-severely-injured-knoxville-musician/
I was burned trying to save her so I saw it all, now I wonder if these pictures will leave my mind so I remember good times.

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