fires cause by earthquake

As buildings are being overrun with water in parts of Japan, some buildings are also on fire. What about an earthquake would cause a fire to ignite? I assume a downed powerline could ignite some leaked fuel, but can pressure on fuel alone (crushing blows to a tank of gasoline, oil, or pipe of natural gas) cause ignition? What else would cause a fire to start on fire? (I guess people could flee a stove, candles, or heater that was light/on and it goes on to start a fire.)

It’s not a matter of “fleeing” a stove - if a gas stove is in use when the earthquake hits, you may not have time to extinguish the flame before it spreads.

Also, some gas appliances have pilot lamps that are continuously burning.

A contributing factor is that almost all houses in Japan use gas for cooking, and either gas or kerosene for water heaters. Kerosene space heaters are ubiquitous as well. Electricity is expensive.

Ruptured natural gas line most likely and any thing that would ignite it. Electricity and sparks from metal against metal are ones that spring to mind.

Candles being knocked over. Frying oil. Dropped cigarettes. Cars crashing.

Lots of wooden buildings in Japan built of interlocking pieces as opposed to being secured with nails.

Once an earthquake gets the buildings shaking the friction ignites the buildings. It’s a problem that’s plagued Japan since the Hinayana period.

I used to work in an industry that dealt with the results of large natural disasters. What you mentioned plus the common construction found in many Japanese homes (lots of wood and exposed flammables) is a recipe for fire.

As I recall, most of the death toll from earthquakes comes from fires after the fact, not so much the quake itself.

You want to see a “good” (meaning “bad”) fire caused by “odd” circumstance?

Do a search for Osan Air Base fuel tank fire. One of those 20,000 gallon above ground fuel tanks blew all to ^&^% due to static electricty. And the tank was full of “safe” jet fuel.

Any number of things can cause a fire, when working with things that have any chance at all of being combustible. Read carefully the instructions on the fuel pump when you next fill up your tank. Make SURE you have that nozzle inserted fully when you start to pump.

Static electricty is our enemy! When will we learn?

That was certainly true for the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923. Fire hasn’t been as severe in more recent quakes; a majority of deaths in the Kobe quake from being crushed in collapsed buildings.

For the earthquake yesterday (is there a name for that yet?), I expect drowning will be the number-1 cause of death.

I’m kinda surprised to hear this. You would think that when they started setting up the modern infrastructure in Japan that they would look askance at running miles and miles of natural gas pipelines underground in such a seismically active area, but now that I think of it, what’s really the alternative for them? Nuclear power plants are dangerous in the same area for different reasons, although they do have them, there is also likely little in the hydroelectric arena for them due to their small size, and mining for coal isn’t an option for more electricity production either.

No-win really, although I’m sure the inventive Japanese engineers try to couch the gas pipelines in some type of shock-absorbent material as best as they can. I suppose in the event of an earthquake and subsequent tsunami of this magnitude that natural gas fires are the least of their worries in the long run.

i think the gas grid and infrastructure has automatic shutdown for earthquakes. you still would have gas in the pipes that could burn.

Plus you have a few people who burn down their house to take advantage of nature.

I did a search for Osan Air Base fuel tank fire, the only result that matched that phrase was this thread, and nothing else on google mentions it. I might just be being a spang, would you mind posting a link to a cite?
I’m certain I’ve heard of this or a similar incident before, and would like to learn more.