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fan the flames

Intensify or stir up feelings; exacerbate an explosive situation. For example, She already found him attractive, but his letters really fanned the flames, or His speech fanned the flames of racial dissension.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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