E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
The great fire festival of the Persians, when they used to set fire to large bunches of dry combustibles, fastened round wild beasts and birds, which, being then let loose, the air and earth appeared one great illumination. The terrified creatures naturally fled to the woods for shelter, and it is easy to conceive the conflagration they produced. (Richardson: Dissertation.)