Best Movie Scenes Involving Fire

The best fire scenes in movies come from Die Hard With A Vengeance, The Towering Inferno, and The Dark Knight.

By Robert Scucci | Updated

If you’re looking to get purified by the flames of a mighty fire, then we’ve got just the list for you! Sometimes the best way to capture a fire scene in a film is to just set the entire set ablaze, and that’s what we’re here to talk about. From John McClane (Bruce Willis) to Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), we’ve put together a list of what we consider to be the nine best scenes involving fire, and we wanted to share it with you.

So if you’re into s’mores, get your trusty marshmallow stick ready, because we’re about to set your living room ablaze with the best fire scenes in movies we could find.

9. Ladder 49 (2004) – Warehouse Rescue

If you’re looking for gritty realism in your firefighting flicks, then Ladder 49 is a must-watch. Director Jay Russel, and special effects coordinator Larry Fioritto have stated that these were all real fires in the Joaquin Phoenix and John Travolta film. Using a combination of the acting talent, and stunt actors, these scenes were quite dangerous to produce.

Joaquin Phoenix even trained for a month at a fire academy to prepare for the role, and this particular fire scene, because acting skills alone wouldn’t have been enough to pull off some of the scenes in Ladder 49.

When this particular fire scene was shot, it actually caused a panic in Baltimore, because the raging plumes were visible from I-95, prompting citizens to call the fire department, which tied up the emergency lines. When a fire scene is so realistic, that a radio broadcast needs to confirm that a movie is currently in production, then you know it’s going to look great on screen.

8. The Fury (1978) – Final Explosion

1978’s supernatural thriller, The Fury, doesn’t necessarily involve fire in a traditional sense in its final scene but rather a spontaneous human explosion that is summoned through psychic powers. In this scene, we see Gillian Bellaver embracing her powers when she backs into the corner and stares menacingly at Ben Childress, her captor.

She motions with her hands as her eyes glow blue and boldly proclaims, “you go to hell,” before Childress’ body ignites. Fire explodes from inside his body in this scene, and his remains rain down on the room.

7. The Revenant (2015) – The Campfire

Though not as high-octane as some of the other fire scenes on this list, The Revenant does get a bit philosophical when John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) contemplates the existence of God to young Jim Bridger (Will Poulter). The fire crackles calmly in the background during this scene, while Fitzgerald explains that his father once told him that God is a squirrel, a big old meaty one at that.

Fitzgerald concludes his story by revealing that he “shot and ate that son of a b*tch” before locking eyes with Bridger. And Hardy’s delivery of this line did an excellent job of setting the audience up for laughter and then knocking them down. His punchline is not without humor, but his crazed look after concluding the story makes the crackling of the campfire all the more menacing.

6. The Dark Knight (2008) – Hospital Explosion

It’s not necessarily the explosion in The Dark Knight that makes this fire scene so iconic, but rather Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker. After paying a visit to a hideously disfigured Harvey Dent at Gotham General Hospital, The Joker calmly stops at the hand sanitizer dispenser to give his hands a quick wash. As he slowly walks down the corridor, he hits the trigger on the detonator while making his exit.

But the best part about this explosion isn’t the explosion itself. It’s the incredulous look that The Joker makes while fidgeting with the detonator because he was expecting a bigger bang. When the series of explosions continue, he shrugs and smiles before hopping onto the school bus, fleeing the fire and the scene of the crime.

5. Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995) – Ship Explosion

When John McClane and Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson) find themselves handcuffed to a bomb on a tanker in Long Island Sound, they have to act fast before the whole ship blows. Though Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons) thinks there’s no way that they have a chance to escape, they defy all odds by breaking out of their handcuffs and running for it.

At this point in time in the Die Hard franchise, we know that McClane is good at improvising, but we’d never expect him to pull a cable splinter out of his shoulder with his mouth so that he could spit it into Carver’s hands. This splinter is instrumental in allowing Carver to pick the handcuff locks.

In an unfortunate turn of events, Carver drops the piece of scrap, leaving him still cuffed. But McClane expertly fires his gun off the remaining handcuff in this scene, and they’re able to flee the scene before the tanker explodes.

4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) – The Arena Catches Fire

2013’s Hunger Games: Catching Fire has an epic fire scene when the arena goes up in flames. Trapped in the arena, Katniss Everdeen uses her expert archery skills to shoot an arrow attached to a wire into the arena roof, causing the structure to fall apart. The wire is instrumental in the destruction of the arena force fields, and Everdeen knows this.

She’s struck by lightning at the same time she launches the arrow, and the wire acts as a conductor that allows the fire to cause maximum damage in this scene. As the roof tumbles down into the arena, Katniss Everdeen is knocked unconscious, but the damage is already done.

3. Inglourious Basterds (2009) – The Theater Fire

We think it goes without saying that there is nothing more satisfying than watching Hitler meet his fate in Quentin Tarantino‘s Inglourious Basterds. The theater fire is a scene of ultimate carnage and ends with a massive explosion that levels the entire building.

During the screening of Stolz der Nation, attended by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, we witness a scene that was spliced into the film by Shosanna, the cinema owner, that states everybody in the theater is about to die. Though the attending audience tries to escape, their efforts are futile because Marcel locked the auditorium before lighting a pile of film on fire behind the theater screen in this scene.

At this time, Ulmer and Donowitz break into Hitler’s opera box and open fire on Hitler and Goebbels before turning their guns on the crowd.

2. The Towering Inferno (1974) – Helicopter Rescue

1974’s Towering Inferno is an epic disaster movie starring Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Fay Dunaway, Jennifer Jones, and Fred Astaire. And to say that fire plays a prominent role in this film would be an understatement, considering how many scenes are engulfed in flames.

When a failed attempt at a helicopter rescue sets the roof on fire, it seems like all hope is lost in this scene, but we see an unexpected resolution when O’Halloran (Steve McQueen) and Doug Roberts (Paul Newman) blow up the water tanks on top of the building with plastic explosives, extinguishing the flames.

Though we’ve seen several casualties at this point in the film, the remaining party-goers in the building appear safe from the fire as the Glass Tower becomes flooded with water from the tanks.

1. Backdraft (1991) – Warehouse Fire

The warehouse fire scene in 1991’s Backdraft is as stunning as it is devastating. When a multiple-alarm chemical fire engulfs a chemical factory, Kurt Russel’s Lieutenant Stephen “Bull” McCaffery realizes that Scot Glenn’s John “Axe” Adcox is responsible for the fires. And the fire in this scene is as close to hell on Earth as we can get.

When an explosion destroys the catwalk that Bull and Axe are standing on, Axe is thrown off, but Bull is able to grab his hand. However, Bull loses his grip, which causes Axe to fall to his death. Bull is gravely injured from the fall, and the fire still rages in this scene. Bull’s brother, Brian, bravely fights off the flames while calling for backup, but his efforts aren’t enough to save his life.