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Forest fire

A forest fire, also known as a wildfire, is an uncontrolled fire in wildland 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:

External Links

Further Reading

  • 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

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