What Are Forest Fires?

Each one of us may have heard the environmentalist talking about tree plantations. Have you ever imagined life on earth with lesser or no trees, say after 200 or 300 years? Each human will be forced to carry their personal plant to get continue supply of oxygen. Carrying plants will be a new trend in fashion. Well well well !!! Let’s come out of imagination and just think for a while – how we can avoid this imaginary situation in the near future? Okay, lets first know why will this problem arose. It will arise because of lack of trees on earth. This could be due to deforestation, soil erosion, forest fires and many more other reasons. And the answer to the question is quite simple, we need to plant more and more trees to overcome this damage to earth.

In this article, we will be discussing in detail about, one of the mentioned reasons of decrease of trees on our planet, i.e. forest fires. Spend your valuable 10 minutes to this read and understand what are forest fires and how to deal with it.

What are Forest fires ?

The burning of forests due to large uncontrolled fires are forest fires; also known as wild-land fires. Forest fires are mostly uncontrollable. However, in very rare cases these can be controlled by, human efforts or by nature in the form of rainfall. Let’s now have a look on causes of forest fires.

What are forest fires ? | Learnfatafat

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Causes of forest fires?

Forests are the large areas covered with number of trees and plants, and provides habitat to wildlife. Due to natural processes, large amount of litters like dry leaves, twigs of trees, remains of dead plants and trees, etc are deposited above the soil in the forest. Nature of these litters is combustible. In case of forest fires, litter acts as a fuel. Even the small spark is sufficient to ignite fire, which is responsible for burning of litter and it easily spreads further with time. The fire sparks are caused due to natural or man-made reasons.

  • Natural Cause: If lightning struck the trees in the forest it then it catches fires. In case, if the trees in the forest are dry then possibility of spreading of these fires vigorously, increases. During strong winds, the dry dead plants, get rubbed against each other causing friction between them. If this continues larger intensity then it results into fire of friction. You can read about fire of friction here. Some other natural causes resulting into forest fires are dry weather, volcano eruptions, etc.
  • Man made Cause: Carelessness in human activities are majorly responsible for forest fires. Electric sparks, improper disposal of incompletely burnt waste, etc are some of such reasons. During trekking and campaigning in the forest areas, bonfires are lit if these are not extinguish properly then these become a reason for fires in the forest. Similarly, if lit cigarettes or beedi are thrown, then the combustible material catches fire easily. Thus, we humans should be careful about the bad consequences and thus should avoid such activities. Various laws are in action across the world in order to prevent forest fires.

Do you know, forest fires are classified into various types, as per their burning patterns?

Types of forest fires

Forest fires are classified as surface fires, ground fires and crown fires. Generally, during forest fires, two or types of forest fires can be observed.

  • Surface fires – Surface fires generally burns the litter present on the forest floor. These are the easiest for putting off. When compared to average human height, these fires are smaller than humans ( approx 1.3 to 1.4 meters)[6]. Surface fires causes less destruction as compared to ground fires and crown fires.
  • Ground fires – Ground fires occurs below the surface. These are also known as subsurface fires. Ground fires burns materials below the surface which are dry enough to get burnt like leaves, humus, partially decomposed vegetation, etc. In comparison to surface fires, these are difficult to extinguish and cause more destruction. These are slow-moving, however, if ground fires are ignore, then they cover the large areas. The major drawback of ground fires is these can remain suppress below the surface during winters and can emerge out again during hot climatic conditions.
  • Crown fires – Crown fires are the most destructive types among all. These burn the tree tops and jumps from one to another. Thus, it spreads fastest as compared to surface fires and ground fires.

Effects of forest fires on environment

Forest fires are harmful as well as useful. Now you must be thinking how could fires be useful as it burns the forest? Well, if forest fires of lower intensity occurs, then these clears the debris like leaves, branches, stems, etc. This helps in soil enrichment. Also, it provides space for the growth of new plants. But mostly forest fires have harmful effects on the environment. Burning of forest releases a large amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thereby, causing the greenhouse effect, thus causing global warming. Moreover, forest fires destroys the habitat of living organisms, which affects the population of the species of living organisms. Even forest fires have destroyed the homes of local habitants near the forest area. The smoke released during the forest fires not only pollutes the environment but also creates health related problem among the humans settled near the forest regions.

Following data shows some devastating forest fires in recent years and the estimated area burnt

Forest fire Area Year
Australia forest fires (Australia bushfire)[1] 18,600,000 hectares (46,000,000 acres) 2019 – 20
Amazon forest fires (South America)[2] 906,000 hectares (2,240,000 acres) 2019
California forest fires (U.S)[3] 105,147 hectares (259,823 acres) 2019
Bandipur forest fires (India)[4] ‎4,419.54 hectares (10,920.9 acres) 2019

How to prevent forest fires ?

If forest fires are attended in its initial phase, then the large amount of destruction to flora and fauna can be prevented. Remember!!! Prevention is always better than cure. Following are some guidelines for prevention from forest fires[5].

  • Contact the local authority if the fires are detected.
  • Do not leave campaigning site until the campfires, fire lanterns, etc are cold. Dispose them by putting water. Similarly dispose off cigarettes, match sticks and other materials producing smoke, properly.
  • If you are caught in a forest fire, move towards the area where there is less vegetation or near the water sources. Try to cover yourself completely with a wet cloth. Lie on the ground and breathe the air near the ground surface, avoid inhaling smoke.
  • Citizens must obey the laws regarding the open burning of fires.

As you can see, forest fires destroys large part of forest areas, thus it indirectly causes deforestation. Sometimes it can be controlled sometimes it cannot be. Being a responsible citizen it’s our duty to extend our hands to prevent them. We cannot stop burning of forests always, but this damage to nature can be overcome to some extent by planting more and more trees. Trees are always beneficial, know benefits and importance of trees – Click here: Benefits Of Tree Plantation. So, let’s promote the plantation of trees –

Beneficial are trees
Do not consider them to be free
Each one plant
One two or three.

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Note: Author and Company do not support cigarette smoking in any case. In the article it is mentioned in order to create awareness among the people.

Reference Link(s)-
[1] Australia Bush Fires: Source Wikipedia
[2] Amazon Forest fires: Source Wikipedia
[3] California Forest Fires: Source Wikipedia
[4] Bandipur Forest Fires: Source Wikipedia
[5] Wildfire Safety tips, facts and information: Source nationalgeographic.com
[6] Forest Fire: Source energyeducation.ca
[Other] Vikaspedia
*Image Credits: This image is taken from Good Free Photos which was uploaded under the cc0 public domain

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