A good tinder for fire starting is fine steel wool, believe it or not.
Also, paul, at manytracks.com, they have a decent looking inside clothes dryer similar to what you are talking about.
Fine steel wool ignites with a touch of battery voltage. A 9V is easiest but you can get a D cell or C cell to work with a few inches of insulated wire.
Maybe Kurt is setting it with a flint spark, I haven't tried that. Kids think the battery trick is very cool!
For dramatic effect a campfire can be started suddenly and remotely with an Estes Rocket ignitor (on a circuit with a 6V battery). Flash paper makes it even better.
Clap clap - Whoosh - "whoooah!"