No, this isn’t another song parody post for those who thought I was rewriting Fire and Rain by James Taylor. I wanted to talk about fire as a means of defense against zombies. It seems to me that it is badly underutilized in literature and movies. There are varying opinions as to whether or not fire will kill the undead. I know the goal is to destroy the brain, which is obviously hard to light on fire inside of the skull, but if you heat anything up enough it is going to cook. I don’t see how burning a zombie wouldn’t eventually destroy the brain. Also, even if fire doesn’t kill them, it will destroy muscles and ligaments, making the undead much less of a threat.
Now, how useful this strategy would be in a real-life scenario depends on a few variables. One, will the undead react to pain stimuli in any way? It is widely believed that they will not. Watch most zombie movies and you’ll see all manner of damage inflicted upon them with no reaction unless it is a headshot. So, if that is the case, lighting them on fire wouldn’t be a wise strategy in a one on one scenario, or if you are confronted by a small group. If the fire doesn’t really affect them until it kills them, you will then be fighting off a small group of flaming zombies instead of just a small group of zombies. I can’t speak from experience, but I’m guessing that would suck. Of course, in Night of the Living Dead and a few other movies, we’ve seen the undead shy away from fire as if they were frightened of it. I wouldn’t test this hypothesis in the field, but if you can prove this to be true in a controlled environment, a torch might work well for you in this scenario.
This brings me to my second variable, which is your surroundings. Are you in the open or sheltered? If you have shelter, how likely is it to become engulfed by the same fire you were hoping would save you? In the Dawn of the Dead remake, fire was used in the parking garage to dispatch a small group of zombies. To me, the tactic seemed to work a little too quickly, killing the undead faster than a living person would be killed by fire. Why not use it on the crowd outside? The concrete, metal, and glass exterior of the mall wouldn’t likely catch on fire, but that fire would spread amongst the dead rapidly. It would have been a simple and efficient solution to the problem the survivors were facing. Obviously, if you’re in a secluded, wooden farmhouse like the survivors in Night of the Living Dead you’ll want to stay away from this tactic. More obviously, keep any fire away from your pickup truck’s gas tank.
There’s one last thing to consider before you go burning up any zombies and that is how there came to be zombies in the first place. Can the virus or bacteria be spread through the smoke of the burning zombie? That may sound somewhat farfetched, and I doubt it myself, but it is possible. Unfortunately, there really is no way to know this until the outbreak starts. Even then, we’ll have to hope someone from the C.D.C. figures this out for us and lets us know while we still have viable forms of mass communication. Otherwise, we’ll have to figure it out on our own which could potentially be disastrous. In my opinion, if you don’t know this for sure then fire should only be used as a last resort.
In our weapons section you’ll find a very extensive list of potential zombie-killing tools which includes thermite and Molotov cocktails. I think these should definitely be considered as potential weapons against the zombie hordes when the dead finally rise. Don’t forget to have some GOOD matches or maybe a Zippo lighter as well.