Yes, nearly all types of combustion require oxygen, which is chemically converted into other compounds. Some form of an oxidizing agent, usually oxygen, is needed in order for the fire continue. Both smoke (a mixture of un-breathable gas) and heat are byproducts of these chemical reactions. When you asphyxiate by breathing in smoke, it is because the fire has chemically removed all the oxygen from the air and replaced it with deadly gases like carbon dioxide in the form of smoke. This is also why if you can cut a fire off from oxygen, it will not grow, because it lacks an essential compound (O2), necessary for the chemical reaction needed to create combustion.
In a manner of speaking; fire demands oxygen in order to burn, just as people and animals need oxygen to breath. In order for the flame to grow, enough oxygen must be present to supplement the new gases being created from burning the fuel (whether it is a log or a chemical). Sometimes the most effective method of stopping a fire is ‘choking” it, in which all oxygen is cut off in an enclosed space, and the flame simply dies due to lack of oxygen. When caught in a fire situation, the fast removal of oxygen from the air can asphyxiate people chemicals in smoke, causing them to become delirious and ultimately die from not being able to breathe.
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