A traditional hand-held firework generates light streaks similar to branched pine needles, with ever smaller ramifications. These streaks are the trajectories of incandescent reactive liquid droplets bursting from a melted powder. We have uncovered the detailed sequence of events, which involve a chemical reaction with the oxygen of air, thermal decomposition of metastable compounds in the melt, gas bubble nucleation and bursting, liquid ligaments and droplets formation, all occurring in a sequential fashion. We have also evidenced a rare instance in nature of a spontaneous fragmentation process involving a direct cascade from big to smaller droplets. Here, the self-sustained direct cascade is shown to proceed over up to eight generations, with well-defined time and length scales, thus answering a century old question, and enriching, with a new example, the phenomenology of comminution.
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