In the late nineteenth century, kerosene lamps were widely used for illumination. They were effective and affordable, though had the nontrivial disadvantage of being a significant fire hazard; a lamp knocked over by accident, could end up burning down a building.

Given that the potential fire hazard was quite obvious, one would expect people to do something about it. It's common knowledge that throwing water on an oil fire is counterproductive. Looking at the advice given for chip-pan fires today, it tends to involve things like chemical fire extinguishers and calling 911, neither of which would've been available in the nineteenth century.

The one thing I can see that would be potentially applicable is putting a metal lid over the fire; you could keep a metal tray to hand for placing over spilled burning oil.

Are there any records of people in fact doing that? Or of using any other fire suppression measures that I haven't thought of?

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    Can you explain further why kerosene would be such a difference to the problem presented by candles, oil lamps or really any open flame? But especially the oil lamps seem to conform on most if not all ways of being a hazard you describe? Jul 25, 2020 at 10:42
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    Modern oil lamps (which don't necessarily burn kerosene) actually aren't that much of a fire hazard. In the common flat wick type, the only part that's hot enough to burn the oil is the end of the wick. Knock it over, and the oil in the base usually spills out and cools the wick to where the oil won't burn. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerosene_lamp
    – jamesqf
    Jul 25, 2020 at 17:27
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    Not sure if it is something that people used back then, but you can put out some fires with sand or with a wet blanket.
    – Jan
    Jul 26, 2020 at 11:49


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