Wildfires are natural occurrences and yet time and time again humans have failed to realize this and have smothered them all. Wildfires eliminate underbrush which, if allowed to accumulate can cause a major and horrific wild fire. We are beginning to realize this and are taking action. One way governments have chosen to deal with wildfires is by setting prescribed fires regularly, though even prescribed fires can get out of control and turn into disasters.
Fires don't take very
long to start. One spark can cause a blazing inferno. Once it
begins, a fire can spread at a rate of 14.29 miles per hour. Humans
are the top reason
for fires, though some are caused naturally. Fires need three
things to survive: oxygen, a heat source, and fuel. To stop a
fire you must deprive it of one of these materials. There are
many different types of firefighters but their mission is the
same, deprive the fire of one of these three things. Some firefighters
work on fire breaks, clearing the fuel that a fire needs out of
the way. Others spray water on the fire to deprive it of its heat
and oxygen. Sometimes this is done from helicopters.
It is very hard to predict wildfires. To start with, you have to predict the weather for up to six months ahead. Predicting weather for a couple weeks ahead is hard so imagine how hard it is to predict six months. Then you have to figure out the moisture of the trees, how fast the grass grows, whether a car will drive by that could shoot off a spark, etc. There are so many little things that you have to figure in that it is almost impossible. About the most they can do is declare an area a fire hazard. The amount of fires that the U.S. had in 2003 was below average according to the National Interagency Fire center, with only 70% of the normal amount. Although we didn't have many fires in 2003, we had more than usual in 2000 when 8.5 million acres burned. On average, 3.8 billion acres of land are burned each year.
This is a picture of a forest fire burning a tree, courtesy http://www.Idaho forests.org/images/fires-05.jpg The second picture is of a forest fire beginning to consume a whole bunch of trees, courtesy of http://www.cs.uu.nl/people/marco/fire.jpg