Why do people call a fire a wildfire? Is it because this type of fire happens in the wild? How do wildfires start naturally? In this article, we try to understand wildfires and their natural causes.
According to the Oxford dictionary, wildfire is a very destructive and large fire that breaks out and very quickly spreads through a forest or brush or woodland.
According to the national geography website, this fire cannot be controlled. It happens in the wild woodland vegetation and most often in the countryside. It can quickly burn through savannas, grasslands, forests, and other ecosystems. It is a very common phenomenon and has been taking place in many parts of the world since the beginning of this world. This can happen anywhere anytime and is not specially limited to any particular region of this world. But surely from the statistics, we can tell where in the world it has been happening the most historically.
Wildfire is like the fire of hell that we have yet to see. It does not just burn the surface, but also the vegetation within the grounds. Organic bodies such as tree roots can fuel the flame of the fire that is in the ground. This fire does not stop so easily and can continue for days, weeks, or even months. It can keep burning the ground for the entirety of a season. The ground fire does not stop until it has the right conditions to become a crown or surface fire.
In contrast, the fire that happens on (not ‘in’) the ground usually burns through the dry or dead plants or vegetation that is growing or lying right on the surface of the ground. Things like leaves on the ground or dried-up grass can add fuel to the surface fires. The third type of fire is the crown fire. These are the most dangerous fires of all. They start at the bottom and burn the trees till the treetops are completely burned. This means crown fire does not stop until it burns the whole length of the tree.
Reasons of Wildfires:
There are two main reasons for wildfires. We shall first talk about wildfires that happen naturally – from the elements of nature or when humans create a spark.
The weather has a direct hand in starting a wildfire. Recently, the wildfires and their severity in the regions like Western Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington have attracted the attention of fire scientists, the common public, and resources managers. Besides, large-scale wildfires are becoming a very common yearly phenomenon in various parts of the world. The regimens of wildfires are shifting with the changing nature of precipitation and weather temperature.
The USA is not an exception. Hectares of lands were burned as the largest fire broke out in 2014 in the US because of lower snowpack and dreadful drought. Many wildfires broke out in 2015 in the Conifer forests and Olympic Peninsula. In case of all the cases, extremely dry weather was the vital cause of these wildfires.
With the increasing warmth of the climate, the severity of wildfires is also increasing in various parts of the world. The extreme temperature during drought, wind, and very low quantity of rainfall work together to stage a possible wildfire as the plants, shrubs, trees, leaves, or tree limbs dry out and became the best cause of the natural fire. There is also a topographical effect on forest fires because fires spread faster uphill than downhill.
A fire in the forest can also begin with a lightning strike. Another cause is the spontaneous ignition of dried-up fuel like leaves or sawdust. Apart from these, wildfires can occur because of humans too. The carelessness of humans creates wildfires of unimaginable proportions. Recreation, smoking, campfires, etc., are the major causes of manmade fires.
The wildfire we see, most are from human causes. But the main difference between the fire caused naturally and by humans is that natural fires are detected late and burn a very large area before detection, and human-caused fires are detected early and cannot burn as much area as natural fires. The percentage of natural causes is less compared to human-made fires.
The good effect of wildfires:
Fire projects different kinds of images in different people’s minds. Some are dreadful traumatic experiences, and some are sweet romantic campfires. The fire was naturally given to humans first from lightning strikes. From there, humans found many uses of this element in their daily lives. But when we see a wildfire, it only reminds us of hellfire. Is it so evil? Not really! Let us read to find out in which ways wildfire can be good for us. Of course, we do not want unintentional destruction of natural resources!!
Cleaning the forest floor:
Sometimes wildfire is necessary to clean the forest floor. For this, we need to burn the underbrush, debris, and open the soil for the sunlight that nourishes it. When we burn the weed-like plants that grow around the trees that we need to grow, it creates an unhealthy competition for food from the soil. Less competition gives the larger trees the nutrients they need.
In the past centuries, forests had fewer trees, but they were very healthy, big, and stronger. But now the tree population has grown larger but they are not as strong, big, or healthy as in the past. Wildfires can clean out the weaker trees in the forest and open up the soil for bigger trees so that they can get more food to grow stronger.
Providing natural habitat:
When fire burns the low-growing brushes and cleans the forest floor, grasses and newer plants grow on which the animals can live. This increases the number of animal populations. Also, with the competition gone, water flow to the streams increases, and animals can have more water than before.
Insects and various diseases kill many trees every year. Wildfires kill the insects and diseases that harm the trees. When the insects die, they provide nutrients to the ground, and bigger trees can grow stronger and healthier. Fire brings a lot of good to the forests.
We have tried to give you information on “how do wildfires start naturally”, what they are and what are the types and their causes. Hope you have found what you have been looking for. Happy reading!