They do a lot of things. They synthesize energy from the sun’s rays. They produce oxygen all over the world, for which we are all very grateful. They make a great garden feature that can tie together a whole lawnscape.

One thing trees are not known for is spontaneously bursting into flames of their own accord. Residents in Chongqing were treated to a spectacle they “haven’t seen before” (you can say that again, pal), when an otherwise calm and placid tree decided to do just that.

We would speculate on a combination of factors. One, Chongqing is super hot right now. Actually, a huge portion of China is experiencing record high temperatures at the moment. Two, the top of the tree that caught fire looks like it would have a lot of little, jagged pieces of dry wood, making it kind of an ideal spot for a sudden psychosatanic-meteorological phenomenon (if you’ve never heard that terminology, it’s because we just made it up). And three, there’s no leaf coverage there at the top. That poor wood up there just had to endure the brutal direct sunlight until it couldn’t take it anymore. Everyone has a breaking point.

The people taking the video were pretty positive about it. They’re just happy and interested – Chongqing weather is awesome!

The fire department came by later to squelch the strange occurrence, and everybody left safe and happy. Except for the tree, crushed for daring to be different. Check out Pear Video’s footage of the weirdness.