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Wildfires can spread across millions of acres of land in a very short time. These flames travel up to 14 miles an hour and can overtake the average human in minutes.
The destruction caused by wildfires in the United States has increased. Since 2000, about 72,400 wildfires have destroyed nearly 7 million acres of U.S. land. As more people are moving into rural and wilderness areas, it's vital to understand how wildfires get started and how to deal with them.
Only 10 to 15 percent of wildfires arise on their own. The rest is caused by humans, such as unattended camp and debris fires, cigarettes, and arson.
Natural wildfires can occur during dry weather and droughts, where the vegetation becomes dry, flammable fuel. A spark in the form of lighting, arson, a burning campfire or a cigarette, even the hot sun can cause a spark, warm temperatures can cause combustion, and strong winds can spread fire quickly.
One of the three conditions that make and sustain a fire must be removed. These conditions are fuel, air, or heat sources that could help spark the wildfire.
Natural occurring wildfires play a vital part in nature. It burns decaying matter and can return trapped nutrients to the soil. It can act as a disinfectant by removing plant diseases and harmful insects.
Wildfires also thin forest canopies and undergrowth, enabling the sun to shine on the forest floor, helping new seedlings grow.
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