What Causes Forest Fires?

Human activity is responsible for up to 90% of all forest fires in the United States. Fire is one of the most prevalent causes of deforestation and wildlife extinction globally. Fire has ravaged many woodland and rural areas in the United States, in particular. Forest or animal fires spread at different speeds depending on the vegetation, meteorological conditions, and physical reasons. Forest fires are not new to contemporary history, as evidenced by the discovery of fossil charcoal dating back over a hundred million years. The Earth is regarded to be a fundamentally flammable planet due to the presence of carbon-rich vegetation, dry sections, oxygen in the atmosphere, lightning, and volcanic activity, among other factors.

What Causes Forest Fires
What Causes Forest Fires ( Image Credit: Flickr )

Human Causes

Human activity in or near woody areas is the major cause of forest fires. A big fire might start if a smoker drops a cigarette into plants without completely extinguishing its blazing butt. While most smokers unwittingly drop lighted cigarettes, their actions have been responsible for innumerable forest fires throughout history. Some fires might take many hours to detect because they start small and spread slowly at first before gaining power. Machines used in forestry and hunting can potentially spark fires. Bullets impacting dry grass may ignite it. Petroleum chemicals used in logging equipment may cause fires if they spill onto vegetation. Campfires that are not adequately monitored or extinguished are another issue. Electric outages from adjacent facilities or power plants have the potential to spark a fire. Individuals have intentionally caused fires while hunting to corner wild animals in certain severe cases, while others have burned woodlands to make room for agricultural or building operations. Finally, some people intentionally start fires for no apparent reason (arson). Up to 90% of forest fires in the United States are caused by humans.

Natural Causes

Lightning is the most prevalent natural source of forest fires. Different lightning strikes with differing electric voltages cause fire by instantly burning plants with high currents. Lightning fires are more frequent when the vegetation is still dry following a drought season. Lightning-caused flames are more damaging to plants than human-caused fires. Lighting fires, unlike fires caused by human activity, occur in remote regions far from human presence and are not detected in time. Lightning-caused fires can often occur in rough terrain and dangerous regions, making it difficult for firefighting equipment and people to arrive on time. Volcanic activity such as eruptions and lava flow can occasionally produce fires that are difficult to extinguish due to the lava flow and other concerns. In most situations, firefighters attempt to construct a buffer zone in which to manage the flames. Some fires may also be caused by spontaneous burning of dry leaves and plants.

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Prevention

Most natural fires are generally monitored and allowed to burn in order to balance a forest’s ecosystem. On sometimes, vegetation may be burned to balance species. Authorities have conducted public awareness campaigns regarding the causes of fires in order to avoid human-caused fires. In certain cases, firefighters burn forest plant areas to build buffer zones against future fires. There are various ways to put out wildfires. Simple methods, such as piling soil, can be used. In some circumstances, unmanned aerial planes can be utilised to drop water and fire retardants.

What Causes Forest Fires?

Human activity is responsible for up to 90% of all forest fires in the United States.

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