Wildland Fires

Chad Rosenkrance

How are they started?

In order for a fire to start, there must be a source of fuel, oxygen, and heat. Wildfires can be ignited by lightning, campfires, cigarettes, hot winds, and even intense sun rays. 4 out of 5 (90%) wildfires are caused by people! Once burning, fires move up to speeds of 14mph, quickly burning anything in its path. Wildland fires mostly burn lands managed by federal government agencies. Agencies such as the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) or Forest Service use direct and indirect approaches to suppress wildfires. Direct using fire crews on the ground, versus indirect, using aircraft and other methods to extinguish the fire.

Wildland Firefighting Crews

Smoke Jumpers: Began as a formal firefighting crew in 1934. Smokejumpers parachute into remote areas where other crews cannot reach the fire. Here they are faced with the dangers of being overrun by the fire, but they must work at suppressing it as it is critical to stop it before it spreads too far.

HotShots: Started in the mid 1940's, hotshots must go through intense training in order to qualify. Although they do not jump from planes, these guys are put in tough situations, between fire lines in order to try to contain the fire. Casualties among Smokejumpers and Hotshots exceed those of engine crews and handcrews.

Engine Crew: Are a group of individuals who are transported on a fire engine to the scene of a fire. Crew members either use fire hoses or a pump and roll method, driving around the site of the fire, to contain fires.

Handcrew: A group of up to 20 people who use methods to suppress the fire. Such as digging fire lines, to stop the spread of the fire, as well as saw lines, which is removing any debris or trees from the path of the fire. Ultimately Handcrews attempt to help slow the fire down

Environmental Impact

On average, there are about 100,000 wildfires, that clear out 4-5 million acres of land each year. Fires can disrupt the natural cycle of plants, creating more fire resistant plants to come in the future. As forests and/or land burns, high levels of carbon dioxide are released into the air, adding to the greenhouse effect. Once the fire is out, the ash may destroy any left over nutrients left as well as increase the odds of a flash flood in the area, due the softer soil the is left behind after the fire.
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