A room with fire and lava in the Fire Temple
All Zelda games
Fire, along with ice, light and other elements, has been a staple for The Legend of Zelda franchise. Over the course of the decades, fire has served numerous roles in the games, including an environmental role and being an obstacle to beat.
Role in the Series
Fire as a symbolic element
In various installments from the series, fire is portrayed as part of an elemental triunvirate that encases it along with forest and water, and is present within areas at very high temperatures, such as mountains with volcanoes, and appearing along with Lava. Therefore, people at Hyrule and other lands built temples and dungeons that give it a sacred value, one of the most well-known examples being the Fire Temple in Ocarina of Time. In addition to representing the element canonically, this temple offers several puzzles, obstacles and enemies revolving around it, and is guarded by the Sage of Fire (by the moment the events of the game take place, Darunia fulfills that role, and also guards the Fire Medallion until he gives it to Link). The Bolero of Fire pays homage to the element as well, and instantly transports anyone playing it to Death Mountain Crater, where the temple is located. In the same game, the Goron's Ruby is also known as the Spiritual Stone of Fire.
As in the case of the Zora race representing water, the Gorons usually represents this element, due to them living on Death Mountain, near its active volcano. In The Wind Waker, however, none of them inhabit Dragon Roost Island, and the Rito tribe has instead a fixation towards wind and sky, like its patron deity Valoo does.
Fire as an obstacle
Even in non-fiery zones, it is not uncommon that some spots and treasure chests are surrounded by thin, circular (or hexagonal) layers of fire; these layers are meant to wane only after a designated puzzle or a group of enemies in a zone is conquered, or simply when a switch is pressed. In other circumstances, however, the flames are never meant to disappear, forcing Link to consider taking an alternate route in order to proceed on his quest. In the aforementioned Fire Temple from Ocarina of Time, as well as in the Deku Shrine from Majora's Mask, there are mazes revolving around fire layers that only reveal when the young hero is trying carelessly to bypass a segment.
Lava often plays this role as well. There may be fiery gaps that Link cannot cross if he does not find a way to nullify the deadly effects of the lava (such as wearing the Goron Tunic or transforming into Goron Link), create a path to overcome it (such as using water jars to cool the lava, or making a bridge), or simply overlook it through an alternate route.
Fire as a weapon
Fire is sometimes on the side of Link as well. There are weapons, such as the Fire Rod, that allow the young hero to shoot fire toward his enemies from a distance, some of which are particularly weak against it. A more recurring example, however, is the Fire Arrows, which (at the expense of some magic), are empowered regular arrows that can be shot with a concentrated amount of fire to inflict extra damage to enemies. With the help of the Book of Magic, the Magic Rod serves a similar purpose as well. Not all fire-based weapons shoot fiery projectiles, however. Some artifacts, like Din's Fire and Bombos Medallion, attack through the three dimensions of space.
On the negative side, some enemies also use fire in their defense. These enemies include Bulblins (which shoot Fire Arrows), Dodongos and Fire Keese. When Link is fighting them, he must not use any wooden shield, as they are terminally vulnerable to fire. Some enemies also use lava as a refuge against the reach of Link's attacks.
Fire as a puzzle device
In some dungeons and underground areas, there are torches that must be lit in order to make a chest appear, a door open, or something else happen. There are diverse ways to accomplish this: Using a lantern (A Link to the Past, Twilight Princess, Four Swords Adventures, etc.), Deku Sticks (Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask), Din's Fire, Fire Rod, etc. In nearly all the cases, the torches must be lit before they start turning off, as all of them must be remain lit at a time to render the puzzle or obstacle solved.
There are instances where fire must be used to melt ice or snow. While this is a common feature in several games in the series, Ocarina of Time shows a strange variety in the form of the Blue Fire, which is the only one capable of melting the red ice found in Ice Cavern. Rarer instances of fire usage include making a rock or block rise with lava and killing certain enemies with a source of fire, among others.