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Flamethrowers were mechanical devices that projected fire. Their most common use was to fight Thread, which was destroyed by fire. Flamethrowers were often carried by the riders of Queen dragons, as Queen dragons could not chew firestone. Flamethrowers are limited in direction, throwing flame down but not out nor wide enough to catch thread at higher elevations at typical speed. Thus Flamethowers are used at lower altitudes to catch Thread missed by the higher wings. Flamethrowers were also used by Ground crews, to eliminate Thread burrows.
Flamethrowers were first used during the First Pass to destroy Thread burrows. When the new dragonriders discovered that the queen dragons could not chew firestone, Sean Connell came up with the idea of the girls using flamethrowers to fight Thread while flying their dragons.
When T'mar and Fiona took the injured riders and weyrlings from Fort Weyr back in time to Igen Weyr, Fiona hoped to find a flamethrower so she could practice with the weyrlings, but all flamethrowers from Igen had been brought to Telgar Weyr when the Igen riders merged with that weyr. She was unsuccessful at finding a flamethrower, but she suggested to Zenor and Terregar that they invent a flamethrower that could use the new firestone.
During the Eighth Interval, the knowledge of Flamethrowers disappeared, partly due to the Oldtimers carrying them to the Ninth Pass when they went forward in time. Soon after the start of the pass, Masterweaver Zurg recalled a tapestry from Ruatha Hold which showed holders using flamethrowers. Mastersmith Fandarel tried to create flamethrowers based on the design, but his work was rendered unnecessary when Lessa brought the five missing weyrs from the Eighth Interval to the Ninth Pass, along with all their equipment, including their flamethrowers. Fandarel was able to have his crafters replicate the design. Much of his crafts time would come to be taken up by the repair of broken flamethrowers.
Later, Mardra of Fort Weyr would attempt to use a flamethrower to lead a fighting wing at higher altitudes. However, the limitations of the device meant that many riders and dragons were injured attempting to protect Mardra's queen from Thread the flamethrower could not get.