DEL VALLE, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Gav and Dan are "The Slow Mo Guys," a hugely popular Rooster Teeth series on YouTube. They use high-speed cinema cameras to capture the world in slow-motion.
"So ‘The Slow Mo Guys’ contacted us about the ability to possibly recreate a backdraft and they had actually bought a container," said Chief Ken Bailey with Travis County Fire Rescue ESD No. 11.
Chief Bailey says fire needs fuel, heat and oxygen. "In a backdraft it's where you have all those components but eventually it’s sealed and it consumes all the oxygen," Bailey said.
But when oxygen is reintroduced...
"It will have a violent reaction and everything will light off almost instantaneously and you have this backdraft or this smoke explosion," he said.
The Slow Mo Guys outfitted their container with furniture, wood, a dead Christmas tree, some marshmallow's...I mean how could you not? And they set up their Phantom Flex 4k camera running at 1000 frames per second to capture what happened next.
Chief Bailey says what struck them was the smoke conditions were pretty much what they see on a regular fire...then it just happened. "Minus any sort of tell-tale signs that it was about to occur...that was very impressive to us," Bailey said.
Chief Bailey points out backdrafts are not a daily occurrence.
"There's a lot of people who can go an entire career without seeing a backdraft," he said.
Having said that...he tells FOX 7 they're very dangerous.
"When you look at the data about what kills firefighters about 66% of combat related deaths to firefighters are attributed to extreme fire conditions, that could be a backdraft, it could be a smoke explosion, it could be a flashover," Bailey said.
For Travis County Fire, the video and experience making the video is a learning tool.
"We were interested in this project because it allows us to research this and find maybe ways that we can better read the conditions and anticipate them and mitigate those risks," he said.