Wildfire Information

What is a wildfire?

A wildfire is an unexpected and uncontrollable fire that burns in an area with dry vegetation such as forest, grasslands and other wildernesses.

Fire vs. Wildfire

The main distinction between fire and wildfire is the level of control. Wildfires are uncontrollable and unplanned; they spread rapidly due to the large drought area that they commonly occur in. Fire on the other hand can mean a variety of things from a calm campfire, chimney fire, or house fire. In this way fires don't have the same intense connotations of uncontrollable as wildfires.

Where do wildfires occur

Wildfires can occur anywhere that there is sufficient dry vegetation around to sustain the fire. This need for dry vegetation, or fire fuel, increases the chance for wild fires to occur in regions that frequently experience droughts. Some examples where wildfires frequent are the western mountain forests, the grasses of the Great Plains, and the Florida Pinelands. Some states that have recently had wildfires include California and Colorado.

How long do wildfires last?

There is no set time for a wildfire to burn. Wildfires can move quickly, and will burn as long as oxygen, a fuel source, and a spark or heat source continue to be present. In areas with lots of dry vegetation, wildfires have been known to last weeks.

How do you stop a wildfire?

Unless you are a trained fire man or fire volunteer you shouldn't attempt to take on a raging wildfire. The best things that you can do is to take preventative steps to keep you and your home safe, or evacuate the area if it becomes too dangerous.

How to prepare your home for a wildfire.

How to Prepare Your Home for a Wildfire.  Natural Disaster Guide from Direct Energy.
  1. Make sure you have trimmed your trees and bushes, this helps to limit the mobility of a fire.
  2. Clean your roof and gutters to keep away dry flammable materials.
  3. In fire prone areas, make sure to leave thirty feet radius from your home free of any flammable items. This includes newspapers, dry grass, and other fire fuel.
  4. Stock up water in large tubs or garbage can to use in case of fire.

What causes a wildfire?

Elements that cause a wildfire. Natural Disaster Guide from Direct Energy.

How do wildfires start?

All it takes for a wildfire to start is a spark when conditions are present for wildfires. Heat waves and droughts result in high levels of dry vegetation and are therefore indicators of ideal areas for wildfires conditions. Some wildfires start with a natural spark such as lightning; however, most wildfires are started by human origin. Wildfires start from human origin through an improperly put out camp fire, the butt of a cigarette, or intentionally through arson.

How do wildfires spread?

Wildfires take place in areas that are full of dry grass and dry vegetation otherwise known as "fuel" to fire. Once a spark has ignited around these dry areas the fire spreads quickly because there is no moisture in these plants to extinguish the flame. The wind carries these flames into other dry areas and the wildfire spreads.

What to do in a wildfire?

The most important thing you can do during a wildfire is to tune in to your local news channel or radio station. NEVER stay in an area once an evacuation notice has been given. Wildfires are uncontrollable and unpredictable at times, so if your home is in an area near wildfires the safest thing to do is to evacuate until the danger has passed.

Follow these steps before you evacuate:

Tip: Hold onto keys during a wildfire evacuation. Natural Disaster Guide from Direct Energy. Make sure your car has a full tank of gas, and you know where your keys are.
Tip: Keep car chargers in your car during a wildfire evacuation. Natural Disaster Guide from Direct Energy. Make sure your chargers are in the car, in order to keep your cellphone available for communication.
Tip: Load your car with an emergency kit before a wildfire evacuation. Natural Disaster Guide from Direct Energy. Load your car with an emergency kit (food, water, change of clothes, and insurance papers) and any valuables you want to bring.
Tip: Keep your pets and family inside before wildfire evacuation to find them easily. Natural Disaster Guide from Direct Energy. Keep your pets and family members inside your home, to reduce time spent finding them.
Tip: Preplan multiple evacuation routes before a wildfire. Natural Disaster Guide from Direct Energy. Preplan multiple evacuation routes and share this plan with a friend or family member not in the danger zone.
Tip: Lock your house before you leave for a wildfire evacuation. Natural Disaster Guide from Direct Energy. Lock your house and leave.

How to prevent a wildfire?

It is important to note that natural fires cannot be prevented. Natural fires include those started by lightning strikes. However, we can prevent man-made fires.

Never light a fire in a burn ban area.
Never throw away or aside a burning cigarette butt.
Always put out your campfire by drowning it in water and mixing the ashes and embers with soil.
Never play with matches or cigarettes.
Always keep an eye on your fire.

What are the dangers of wildfires to people?

Dangers of wildfires: burns from flames. Natural Disaster Guide from Direct Energy. Burns from flames.
Dangers of wildfires: exposure to noxious gases. Natural Disaster Guide from Direct Energy. Exposure to noxious gases released by the fire like carbon monoxide.
Dangers of wildfires: lung damage or sickness. Natural Disaster Guide from Direct Energy. Lung damage or sickness due to the inhalation of too much smoke.
Dangers of Wildfires: Loss of home or property. Natural Disaster Guide from Direct Energy. Loss of home or property due to the flames.

How do wildfires affect the environment?

Effect of Wildfires on the Environment: Deforestation. Natural Disaster Guide from Direct Energy. Deforestation: Wildfires result in the loss of many trees, nearly 4-5 million acres in the United States a year.
Effect of Wildfires on the Environment: Carbon Dioxide. Natural Disaster Guide from Direct Energy. Carbon Dioxide: Wildfires release CO2 which negatively affects the balance of our air.
Effect of Wildfires on the Environment: Water quality. Natural Disaster Guide from Direct Energy. Water: The smoke released in wildfires creates smog and affects the air & water quality in the area.
Effect of Wildfires on the Environment: Smog. Natural Disaster Guide from Direct Energy. Smog: Putting out a wildfire requires high amounts of water and limits this resource in the area.

How do wildfires affect the ecosystem?

A wildfire can cause massive amounts of destruction. The flames of a wildfire can burn down the habitations of thousands of animals and endanger their lives. If the animal manages to keep away from the flames of a wildfire, it still must deal with the noxious gases that are emitted during a wildfire. With the loss of animals and habitation, the ecosystem is disrupted after a wildfire and sometimes it can take as long as 600 years for a forest to have a full ecological recovery.

How do wildfires affect animals or pets?

Wildfire is just as dangerous to animals and pets as it is to humanity. Animals just like humans have the potential to lose their homes (their habitats) and even their lives to the deadly flames. If you are in an area with a high potential for wildfires, keep your pets close to you. If you evacuate, plan to bring your pets along with you.

How do wildfires affect the atmosphere?

Wildfires release CO2 and smog into the atmosphere. Both CO2 and smog negatively affect the atmosphere and decrease the quality of air.


Sources

"Causes, Effects and Solutions to Wildfires." Conserve Energy Future, Conserve Energy Future, 24 Dec. 2016, www.conserve-energy-future.com/causes-effects-and-solutions-of-wildfires.php.

"Wildfire Causes." Fire and Aviation Management, U.S. Department of the Interior, www.nps.gov/fire/wildland-fire/learning-center/fire-in-depth/wildfire-causes.cfm.

"Wildfires Information and Facts." National Geographic, National Geographic Partners, LLC., 23 Oct. 2017, www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/wildfires/.


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