How Do Wildfires Start?
Wildfires are dreaded natural disasters because they destroy wildlife, livestock, land, and threaten the lives of civilians and emergency responders. They cause devastating effects to property and nature throughout the country and unfortunately, wildfires are becoming much more common. So, how do wildfires get started?
Humans are the cause of about 90% of forest fires, but nature and other things contribute to the other 10%. The best way to stay safe is to prevent the wildfire from starting in your area. Check out the various reasons wildfires start, how they form and burn, and what to do to stay safe.
How Wildfires Form
It’s true that humans are the leading cause of all wildfires, but nature hastens the spreading and intensity of the fire. Natural conditions that increase the risk of wildfires include droughts, high winds, and dry brush, trees, and grass. These conditions can make a small, contained fire spread and become an uncontrollable wildfire. Firefighters often take preventative measures like removing brush that will likely cause a wildfire in the future.
Wildfires occur because of both man-made and nature-made causes, but humans are much more likely to be responsible for wildfires and forest fires. The various causes of wildfires include the following:
- Arson: Arsonists are people who intentionally start wildfires and forest fires, which is a serious crime.
- Brush: Burning brush is easier than removing it, but also significantly more dangerous. Brush catches fire quickly and easily spreads, especially during droughts or dry seasons. Disastrous wildfires can begin with a simple brush fire.
- Campfires: A campfire left unattended can lead to a wildfire, so if you want to build a campfire for cooking or heat, take proper safety precautions and don’t leave it unattended.
- Cigarettes: A cigarette discarded carelessly can create a wildfire, especially in dry conditions.
- Lava: In certain cases, volcanoes emit lava that can cause wildfires in the area.
- Lightning: While humans are often the cause of wildfires, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes storms and dry lightning can spark a fire without the rain to put out the flames.
How Wildfires Burn
Fuel, oxygen, and heat are the three elements required for a wildfire or forest fire to burn. If even one of these elements is absent, the flames will go out. Fires are identified as three types once they reach the combustion stage:
- Smoldering fire: Emits only smoke and no flame, difficult to self-sustain
- Fire: Flaming combustion accompanied by flames
- Glowing combustion: Late stage of the fire that includes a slower rate of blue flame and combustion
Forest fires are also identified by the area of the forest they burn in:
- Ground fires: Occurs below the leaves on the ground
- Surface fires: Occurs on the surface
- Crown fires: Occurs on the treetops and are considered the most dangerous forest fire
In a large, unencumbered forest fire, two or all these fire types may occur simultaneously.
How to Stay Safe
The best way to remain safe during a wildfire or forest fire is to be prepared beforehand, especially if you live somewhere prone to wildfires. It is important to form an emergency plan and communicate it to your loved ones. Create an emergency kit including clothing, blankets, medications, first aid supplies, and other personal items.
Clear brush and dead plants away from your yard because dead or dry vegetation causes wildfires to keep spreading and will endanger your home. Install a smoke alarm in your house and inspect it regularly to ensure it is working properly. Wildfires can start at any time and spread quickly, so learning about the disaster quickly increases your risk of avoiding injury.
Most importantly, listen to the news on television, radio, and other media to communicate with authorities who will give instructions to citizens in the area during a wildfire. Listen to the directions the authorities give you and evacuate if you’re told to do so.
It is important to know how wildfires start so you can use this information to prevent them. If your property experiences fire damage from a wildfire, contact a professional to restore and repair your personal belongings. ServiceMaster of Bux-Mont can provide fire damage restoration services to fire damaged property as a result of a wildfire.