This material in a highly nitrated form is used as an explosive. In a less nitrated form it finds use as a resin for making paints, inks and shiny surface coatings, but it still burns fiercely.

It has created some very large fires, most recently on the 9th September 2007 at the Ardeer, Stevenston site now occupied by Nobel Enterprises, but originally part of ICI. 1500t of product was involved in this case. Arson by youngsters is suspected in this case. See the bbc site for eyewitness reports and pictures.

They should however have known the potential as a fire at Ardeer in May 1973 that started in an openair drum store grew so fast that the adjacent site fire station building was on fire by the time the crew left the building, and all their equipment was burnt out before it had been deployed. A number of other buildings were damaged, but casualties were relatively few.

In 1973 the product was stored in steel drums, which tended to burst violently when overheated. Modern fibreboard drums do not fail in the same way, but separation distances are determined by radiant heat considerations, not by the danger from missiles.

The French manufacturer of NC, Bergerac has also had a major fire at its premises in the past.