house on firewith fire escaping and smoke pouring from upstairs windows
Photo: Stephen St. John/Getty Images
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House Fire: 4 to 5 minutes

Flames are visible from the street: they travel outside the house through the door and broken windows and into open second story windows. Rescuing anyone still trapped on the second floor may be impossible.

As the blaze in the living room intensifies, the room flashes over. The type of construction materials used to build your home will influence the severity of damage. Synthetics like polyurethane, polystyrene, and PVC used in glues, insulation, and plumbing will auto-ignite at temps between 850 and 1075 degrees. At 1000 degrees F, steel plates used in engineered roof trusses will start to buckle and they lose 40 percent of their load-carrying capacity. Newer homes built with engineered wood can experience floor collapse in as little as 6 minutes. Roof collapse can follow very soon after in an out-of-control blaze.
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