Mirrored headboard becomes 'big magnifying glass' and burns down home carport


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“A mirror is pretty much like a big magnifying glass,” said a Fresno Fire Department spokesperson.

Umm, nope. Somebody failed HS physics. Not surprising from the FD. I had a local FD inspector tell me I should have a CO detector in the kitchen in case the pilot light on the older stove went out. I gently pointed out that if the pilot light went out there would be no combustion and no possible CO.


This was a parabolic headboard?


Wasn’t there a curve-walled skyscraper in Taipei with heat reflective glass windows that incinerated people who stood in a certain spot on the sidewalk at a certain time of day?

Or maybe they just got sunburned.


I’m guessing it was propped in such a way that it sagged in the middle.


One in London as well, and I think one in Las Vegas.


That’s plausible (if it was not made of glass). I can’t envision a headboard which is curved enough by design to start a fire. Too bad the photo in the article doesn’t show the mirror.


I guess it might be wise (within the limits of having a mirrored headboard in the first place) to make the thing out of a flexible material. Better than having a big piece of glass built into the bed.




Yeah, exactly. The mirror may have focused the light if it was concave and could have conceivably caused a fire. I’m not sure in what universe it could have magnified the light.


mirrored headboard

That’s so hot!


Assuming this is true, we can all agree it would have to be a concave mirror, right?

Why in the world would a furniture maker use a large concave mirror in a design? Flat mirror - sure. But who would buy ostensibly classy furniture that made them look like a funhouse attraction?


Vegas! Death rays in Vegas!


A slightly warped mirror could concentrate light, and depending on what the light was hitting, could certainly cause a fire. A perfect parabola is not needed. Home fires have been caused by makeup mirrors, glass doorknobs, and even sunlight shining through a Nutella jar filled with water. If you Google “sun causes house fire”, you will get 61,100,000 returns.



Well, not quite. Even a flat mirror will cause the reflected-upon surface to receive more sunlight than it otherwise would, thereby heating up more than it otherwise would. For a particularly hot dry day, and a particularly flammable structure, that could be enough.


If you put quotes around that you get 2 results.


Are you arguing with the internet?? All I know is what’s on the internet, said a great man.


Hey guys! I just wanted to stop by to say that glass can bend without breaking! In fact, it wouldn’t have to bend much to create a focal point some distance away.

Another true story: This fall we found mysterious burn marks on the veneer of one of our bathroom cabinets. After puzzling over it, I concluded that the sun had been tracking past our window and reflection off a magnifying shaving mirror that we have on a telescoping arm. Even though the mirror had been installed for years, there had never been enough sunlight to cause any damage until we chopped down a tree in our backyard.


There are two other marks a bit down below.

I’m filing this myth under “plausible”.


If the manufacturer of the headboard had used a plastic mirror rather than a glass one (safer, y’know) and the mirror was stored so that it could sag in the middle, not at all improbable.