Fire is an important element of The Long Dark, allowing the player several useful features such as warming themselves to increase the Cold meter, granting the ability to cook or heat up food items, melt snow into water, scare off predators, and serve as a stationary light source.
How to create
To start a fire, the player first needs a location in order to do it. Any Pot Bellied Stove, Fireplace, or Furnace will always be available to start a fire, and those can be found in most houses. Outside, the player may use the radial menu to start a campfire, however, they will be unable to do this in interior locations, if the wind is too strong, or if on an uneven surface. It's also not possible to start a fire on a wooden surface, although if there is snow on top of the wooden surface, that will allow the player to start a fire.
Once a suitable location has been found, the player needs a few items to create the fire. The first is a fire source. Cardboard Matches, Wood Matches, or a Firestriker can be used for this. The match will be consumed (or Condition lost on the firestriker) regardless of whether or not the player succeeds. A Magnifying Lens may also be used, however, the player can only use one of these while outside and during a sunny day: It will never succeed any other time.
Second, they will need fuel. Wood is the only substance available to burn. A Stick will provide seven minutes of fire, any Book, including Research Books, will provide eighteen, Reclaimed Wood provides half an hour, Cedar Firewood provides an hour, Fir Firewood provides an hour and a half, and a Firelog provides two hours. If the fire fails to start, this item will not be consumed, and can be used again in a second attempt.
Third, they will need tinder. Tinder is a small flammable item that provides no benefit to the fire succeeding, and will be consumed whether or not the fire succeeds or fails to start. Birch bark, Cat Tail Head, Newsprint, Newsprint Roll, or a Tinder Plug are acceptable items. After the player reaches fire starting level 3, tinder is no longer needed, but may be optionally selected.
Optionally, an accelerant can be used to boost success of fire starting by 40% and make the fire start faster. In addition to lighter fluid, kerosene can also be used, provided the player has enough of it. The accelerant will be consumed even if the fire fails to start.
Maintaining the Fire
The success ratio of the fire depends on the materials used (Reclaimed Wood and Fir Firelogs are difficult to burn and give a penalty, while Books give a bonus). If it succeeds, the fire will last as long as the fuel lasts, or if a strong wind blows on the fire. More wood can be added to the fire to increase the length of time. Unlike when starting the fire, adding wood to a fire will never fail. The fire will last about a minute or two after the time elapses with the "Embers" modifier, but once it goes out it must be started again. After thirty minutes has elapsed, Coal may be added to a fire. It provides about a half hour of fire length, and a hefty boost to the temperature of the fire, but a fire cannot be started with coal.
Fire will always warm up the surroundings and fill the character's cold bar and make them less suspectible to Hypothermia. The high temperature is also good as treating the condition.
Melting snow is the most reliable way to get water, and it will be unable to melt it without a fire. Melted water may also be boiled over a fire to make it potable
A fire can cook any meat or fish found in the water to prevent it from giving parasites or other horrid conditions, although some food with low condition can still provide Food poisoning. Tomato Soup, Pork and Beans, and Pinnacle Peaches may be heated up and eaten hot to make the Cold bar decrease slower for a length of time.
A fire is a source of light, and one can use it while in the dark to do things that require the light, such as research books or working at a Work Bench.