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The Different Types of Wildland Fires That Exist

The Different Types of Wildland Fires That Exist

Just like tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods, wildland fires are forces of nature that are difficult to control and almost impossible to prevent. But knowing the different types of wildland fires is essential in learning how to respond to this catastrophe. That way, you can prepare your community for a wildfire in case one ever comes your way.

Ground Fires

Also known as subsurface fire, ground fire involves the burning of organic material below the ground’s surface. Such a fire generally starts when subsurface fuels such as coal, peat, tree roots, and other organic matter ignite and start burning underground before eventually finding their way to the surface.

The depth of ground fires may depend on how deep the burning organic matter is, but ground fires are often very hard to control and extinguish because they’re not easy to locate. Since they may take more time to deal with, they’re known to burn for several months.

Surface Fires

As their name suggests, surface fires burn on the surface of the ground. They’re mainly caused by surface fuel, which may include dry leaves, twigs, low-lying vegetation, and litter. Depending on the conditions, surface fires can range from low to high intensity, but they’re unlikely to reach the top of the trees, generally remaining near the forest floor. Surface fires are known to spread slowly, but their spread can accelerate depending on the weather conditions or terrain. They’re known to spread especially rapidly in steeply sloped landscapes.

Crown Fires

Although it often starts as a surface fire, a wildland fire is only a crown fire if it reaches the tops of the trees. The volume, type, and arrangement of fuels from the forest’s surface can influence a crown fire. Crown fires are the most difficult type of wildland fire to control and suppress, since they’re typically the most intense type. This is because their height exposes them to a lot of wind, causing them to spread quite rapidly.

Naturally caused wildfires have been part of various ecosystems for centuries. They pose serious threats to not only wildlife but also human life and property. Multiple factors can influence the intensity of wildland fires and their potential to destroy and damage properties. This is why having a basic understanding of wildland fire movement and intensity—or what people refer to as fire behavior—is so important. This will help homeowners and builders not only evaluate fire hazards but also come up with ways to mitigate this risk. Once you can identify the different types of wildland fires, determining how to handle them will be easier.

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