A forest fire
, also known as a wildfire
, is an uncontrolled fire
often caused by lightning
but sometimes as the result of human carelessness or arson
. In Australasia
, forest fires are normally called Bushfires
Drought and the prevention of small forest fires are major contributors to extreme forest fires.
With extensive urbanization of wildlands in the United States, especially in California and Colorado forest fires often involve destruction of suburban homes located in the wildland urban intermix.
Forest fires are a natural part of the ecosystem of a forest. Suppression of fires, long the policy of the United States Forest Service, has resulted in the buildup of fuel resulting in some very large severe fires such as the fire in Yellowstone National Park in 1988. Urbanization can also result in fuel buildup and devastating fires, such as those in Los Alamos, New Mexico, East Bay Hills, within the California Cities of Oakland and Berkeley, between October 19 and 22, 1991 and all over Colorado in 2002. 2002 was a record year for fires with major fires in Arizona,California, Colorado and Oregon.
Slash, which is discarded small, rotten, mis-shappen or otherwise undesirable wood discarded during logging, historically has provided the fuel for huge devestating fires such as the fires in Michigan in the 19th century.
The aftermath of a forest fire can be as disastrous if not more so than the actual fire itself. A particularly destructive fire will burn away all of the plants and trees which prevented erosion. If heavy rains occur after such a fire, landslides, ash-flows and flash floods are to be expected. Not only will this result in severe property damage for those living in the immediate burn area, but it will also severely affect the quality of the local water supply.
Famous fires include those at:
- Miramichi fire in Maine and New Brunswick, which burned three million acres and killed 160 people. 1825
- Yachina fire in Oregon, which burned 450,000 acres 1846
- Nestucca fire in Oregon, which burned 320,000 acres 1853
- The Silverton fire, the worst recorded fire in Oregon, which burned an estimated one million acres 1865
- The Coos fire in Oregon, which burned 300,000 acres 1868
- The Peshtigo, Wisconsin[?] fire, which burned 1,200,000 acres in one day October 8, 1871 (overshadowed by the Great Chicago Fire, which occurred on the same day)
- Bighorn fire in Wyoming, which burned 500,000 acres 1876
- A fire in Michigan, burned a million acres and killed 138 people 1881
- The Hinckley fire in Minnesota, burned 160,000 acres, killed 418 people, and destroyed 12 towns 1894
- The Adirondack fire in New York, which burned 450,000 acres 1903
- The Great Fire of 1910, burned about three million acres in Idaho and Montana over two days (August 20, and 21), killed 86 people
- The Tillamook Burn[?], which swept through the same region of Oregon four times, and burned a total of 355,000 acres 1933, 1939, 1945, and 1951
- A series of fires in Maine over ten days, burned 175,00 acres and killed 16 people 1947
- Yellowstone National Park 800,000 acres, 1988
- East Bay Hills, within the California Cities of Oakland and Berkeley, between October 19 and 22, 1991.
- Mesa Verde National Park[?] 2000
- Show Low, Arizona 2002
- Durango, Colorado 2002
- The Florence/Sour Biscuit Complex Fire[?], burned 499,570 acres in southwestern Oregon between July 13 and September 5, 2002
- Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire, Stephen J. Pyne, Princeton University Press, 1982, hardcover, 654 pages, ISBN 0-691-08300-2
- Year of the Fires, The Story of the Great Fires of 1910, Stephen J. Pyne, Viking Penguin, 2001, 320 pages, ISBN 0670899909
- Ghosts of the Fireground: Echoes of the Great Peshtigo Fire and the Calling of a Wildland Firefighter, Peter M. Leschak, HarperSanFrancisco, 2002, hardback, 288 pages, ISBN 0062517775
All Wikipedia text
is available under the
terms of the GNU Free Documentation License