Wildfires burn all over the world. They start, and they’re spread, in a number of different ways, whether they’re the result of a single careless act by a human or natural forces that are entirely out of our control.
The risk of potential wildfires varies quite considerably in different countries, due to the impact that weather has on how fast or far a wildfire can move. However, climate change has brought the dangers of wildfires to places that had never seen them before, and no one quite knows what the future holds.
What starts a wildfire?
Wildfires can start in almost any country, but they tend to be most damaging in countries that are prone to hot, humid weather. So, while we often only hear about devastating wildfires in countries like the USA or Australia, they can actually start practically anywhere.
All wildfires begin as a result of one of two things. A vast proportion of fires result from human carelessness, but the remainder will occur naturally, due to lightning strikes and the scorching heat of the sun.
Man made wildfires are often down to simple acts like throwing a lit cigarette away without thinking about it, or leaving a campfire without putting it out correctly. Do something like this when it’s warm enough and you could have the making of a huge fire.
Freak accidents can also start fires that have the power to spread rapidly if weather conditions permit. Who can forget the California wildfire that resulted from a gender reveal gone wrong. Last year, an El Dorado family used a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device to announce the gender of their baby, unwittingly causing a fire that went on to burn for a month.
The science of wildfires
For a wildfire to start and spread, it needs three things. These three things are commonly referred to as the fire triangle. In the triangle we have fuel, oxygen and heat.
If the temperature is warm enough and there’s plenty of oxygen, anything from dry grass and plants to trees and of course houses can quickly become fuel for a wildfire. Once materials like these are heated to significant levels, they easily burn and become engulfed by a moving fire.
Oxygen is of course in the air around us, and it’s another thing wildfires need to start. Whenever burning fuel meets oxygen, that oxygen feeds the fire by creating a chemical reaction, further increasing the heat of the fire and keeping it burning.
Wildfires tend to occur in warmer countries, because heat is the final vital factor in starting such a fire. Most materials will ignite when heated to a sufficient level. If the sun’s already doing that job then it’s far more likely that a fire will occur.
Natural Risks that Strengthen Wildfires
The environment a fire ignites in always plays a huge role in how intense the fire is and how fast it moves, whether it’s started by a human or not.
Weather can impact how a wildfire moves. Wind is particularly risky, as it feeds the fire with plenty of oxygen while enabling it to travel at a much faster pace. A very windy day can also give the fire more power to spread, as wind will carry lit embers and ignite additional fires in surrounding areas.
If humidity is low and the temperature is soaring, fuel sources will be dry as well as hot. And that’s another risk in terms of wildfire ignition. Dry, warm fuel such as grasses and trees burn easily, allowing a fire to spread rapidly.
Bear in mind that certain fuel sources will further strengthen the fire. For example, some plants produce oils which burn surprisingly quickly and intensely. If the moisture content of a particular type of plant or vegetation is naturally on the lower side, this too can pose a higher risk where wildfires are concerned.
Wildfires are an incredibly dangerous phenomenon, as once they’re burning they can be very difficult to put out.
With environmental factors playing such a huge role in how easily fires can start, and how quickly they can spread, it’s very difficult to eliminate the risk that wildfires present completely. However, there are steps that you can take to protect your family, and your property, from an approaching wildfire.
If your home is at risk of wildfires, we recommend using a fire retardant, such as a spray, to treat your home and the surrounding area. Take a look at our range of fire retardant sprays and start protecting your home from wildfires with the help of our non-toxic fire fighting kits.
Water-based and environmentally-friendly, our fire retardants will protect your home and give you the peace of mind you need. If you need any assistance finding the best product for your home, don’t hesitate to get in touch.