A British variant of this expression is set the Thames on fire.
1976 - Dick Francis - In the Frame - He was the same sort of man my father had been, middle-aged, middle-of-the-road, expert at his chosen job but unlikely to set the world on fire.
RELATED IDIOMS :
be fiercely angry
The implied comparison in this expression is with a fire-breathing dragon.
begin to burn.
Become interesting or exciting.
1994 - Coloradoan - I do not think this is something that's going to catch fire as a trend.
fire and brimstone
the supposed torments of hell.
In the Bible, fire and brimstone are the means of divine punishment for the wicked. Brimstone (from the Old English word brynstân meaning burning stone) is an archaic word for sulphur and is now rarely found outside this phrase.
fire in the belly = fire in your belly
a powerful sense of ambition or determination.
1991 - Vanity Fair - Bennett is quick to deny feeling the fire in the belly generally considered a prerequisite for tenancy at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
go through fire = go through fire and water
face any peril
This phrase originally referred to the medieval practice of trial by ordeal which could take the form of making an accused person hold or walk on red-hot iron or of throwing them into water.
light a fire under someone
stimulate someone to work or act more quickly or enthusiastically - North American
play with fire
take foolish risks.
being shot at.
Being rigorously criticized.
1993 - Albuquerque New Mexico Journal – Zoe Baird, under fire for hiring illegal aliens to work in her home, has withdrawn her name as President Clinton's nominee for US Attorney General.
Where is the fire?
used to ask someone why they are in such a hurry or in a state of agitation – informal
1963 - J. F. Straker - Final Witness - 'Where's the fire, dear boy?' he drawled. 'Do we really have to run for it?'