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Charred Wood from a House Fire Under a Microscope

Charred Wood from a House Fire

This is a piece of charred Douglas fir (upper) and a hardwood from the structural wood used in this home. This particle was collected on a tapelift taken on the second floor of a home that had a fire in the basement. This was carried upstairs by the chimney effect through the stairwells.

Transmitted Off Crossed Polarized Light and Reflected Darkfield Illumination


Charring or coking of wood tends to retain the structure of the wood. As a result the genus or even the species of the wood can often be determined from an examination of the structure still evident. There is a reduction in the size of the structures of about 20% typically.

Significance in the Environment:

Many types of wood are used in a wood structure building. The studs and structural beams in a wood building are often Douglas fir or Pine. This wood is often the dominant type of charred wood in the burnt building. The finish woods are generally hardwoods though Cedar and Pine are also used as a common paneling in some regions.

Characteristic Features:

Associated Particles: