Fire officials warn color runs are 'powder keg' of danger

Fire Officials Warn Color Runs Are 'Powder Keg' of Danger

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - It is a colorful way to add some pep to your step.

Color runs are all the rage right now.

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Joggers and walkers are caked in a tsunami of brilliant powder.

"You look like a giant ornament," said runner Rachel Suddeth. "It's fun!"

An event scheduled for this summer in Oklahoma City is billed as "10,000+ pounds of colorful food-grade cornstarch transforms you into a vibrant rainbow."

"They just blast you with these colors," said runner Leila Adlamini. "Everyone gets together, and you try to get blasted in the face completely."

But, what many don't realize - corn starch, under the right conditions, can be highly flammable.

We recruited the help of the Edmond Fire Department to show how easily a cloud of colorful dust can burst into a ball of flames.

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Color runs come with serious fire risk
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Color runs come with serious fire risk
(Photo credit: KFOR)
(Photo credit: KFOR)
(Photo credit: KFOR)
(Photo credit: KFOR)
(Photo credit: KFOR)
(Photo credit: KFOR)

While the flash fires are rare, it has happened.

Just last summer, the fun turned to life-threatening fear at a color run in Taiwan.

"500 people were burned, 11-12 actually died," said Edmond firefighter Jacob Stangl. "It was from this. They used a ton of powder. It's still unknown, but they think it was a cigarette. Something ignited it."

To participate in one of these events, you must read and sign a lengthy waiver.

Organizers point out several potential dangers including slips, falls and high heat.

But, nowhere is there any mention the colored corn starch is combustible.

We showed our fire demonstration to several runners, who had no idea.

"Oh my goodness, wow, I had no idea," said Desiree Kesterson. "That's just normal corn starch?"

The Taiwan government has banned this corn starch powder.

And, with the events increasing in scale and frequency in the U.S., the National Fire Protection Association is urging organizers to explore "nonflammable solutions."

Until then, color run participants should be mindful to the rainbow of danger.

We did reach out to the organizers of the event in Oklahoma next month.

We never got any response to our inquiries about safety.

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