Wildfires burn hundreds of thousands of acres of land every year.
This lesson describes what a wildfire is, what causes them, and how firefighters work to put them out.
What is a Wildfire?
Have you ever tried to put out a fire? Can you imagine a fire so big that it’s traveling, burning land and homes despite efforts to extinguish the flames? That’s what a wildfire is like. Wildfires are uncontrolled fires that typically occur in forested areas of the United States and Canada, as well as the Western Cape of South Africa and Australia. An average of 100,000 wildfires occur in the United States every year, burning millions of acres of land and destroying homes. Other names for a wildfire are forest fire, grass fire, and bush fire.
Fires also need a heat source in order to start and to continue burning. The sun, hot winds, lightning, campfires, and even cigarettes are all heat sources that contribute to wildfires.The third thing that has to be present for a wildfire to burn is fuel.
Fuel is like food for a fire. Grass, brush, trees, and even homes act as fuel for wildfires.
Fighting wildfires is a difficult task. It’s not as simple as sending out a fire truck with a hose. Airplanes and firebreaks are some of the ways wildfires are extinguished. Airplanes are used to fly over wildfires and drop water and chemicals.
Firebreaks are areas of land that have been cleared of fuel. For example, bulldozers might be used to clear brush, grass, and other fuel in a fire’s path. Without the fuel, the fire will go out.
Wildfires, uncontrolled fires, are most often caused by human carelessness. The Fire Triangle is what firefighters call the three things a fire needs to burn, which are oxygen, heat, and fuel.
Firefighters work hard to put out wildfires and still an average of 100,000 wildfires occur in the United States every year.