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Burns. 2010 Sep;36(6):861-70. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2009.11.003. Epub 2010 Jan 13.

Burns caused by alcohol-based fires in the household coal stove in Anhui Province, China.

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Department of Burns, The First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University, 218 Jixi Road, Hefei, Anhui 230022, PR China.


The Chinese peasants in the middle of Anhui Province and north of Dabieshan Mountain are accustomed to using industrial alcohol to kindle honeycomb briquettes in their household coal stoves. Pouring alcohol into the stove often results in flame burns when the honeycomb briquettes inside are not completely extinguished. The purpose of this study is to describe the unique cause and clinical characteristics of this type of injury.


A retrospective review was performed in the Anhui Medical University Hospital Burn Center during a 10-year period, from January 1998 to December 2007, on the records of patients, who sustained burns by alcohol-based firing in household coal stoves. A total of 180 patients were identified and divided into two groups: children (<14 years of age) and adults (>14 years of age).


Boys and housewives were at greatest risk for this burn. As many as 115 patients (64%) sustained more than 10% burns, and children had a significantly larger full-thickness burn area than that of adults. The upper limbs of children and the lower limbs of adults were the most common areas to be injured. All patients came from Shucheng and its neighbouring counties, all of which are located in the middle of Anhui Province and to the north of Dabieshan Mountain. Summer months and daytime, especially during 16:00-17:59 h and 8:00-11:59 h, were the times of the highest incidence. A total of 80 patients underwent surgical intervention. The mean lengths of stay in hospital of children and adults patients were 21.38 days and 16.96 days, respectively. Two children died of severe shock, leading to a mortality rate of 1.11%.


Burns caused by alcohol-based fires in household coal stoves is a common thermal injury in the middle of Anhui Province in China with characteristic clinical presentation and calls for preventive educational intervention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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