A Wildfire is a fire that has become out of control that burns through a natural area of land, such as a forest or grassland, that could impact populated areas. Wildfires spread quickly, igniting trees, houses, bushes, or anything in its path. The larger the fire grows, the more fuel it will need to sustain its rage.
Fire is made up of three components: heat, oxygen, and fuel. All three of these pieces are necessary for fire to survive. This means that there can not naturally be fire, it needs to be started by something. Fires are started in one of the following ways: lightning, lava, human error, or arson. Fires often begin unnoticed. They are typically caused by accidents like hikers, campers, or other people who did not take proper precautions, such as unattended campfires, discarded cigarettes, or general carelessness. It is estimated that about 80-90% of fires are caused by human error. The natural cause of fires can be attributed to the worldwide 4 million lightning strikes every day, or to lava. Further, droughts, dry conditions, and warm weather increase the risk of fire.
On average, in the Unites States, there are about 73,241 fires and about 6,843,321 acres burned by wildfires each year. More and more people are building their homes in and on the border of wilderness areas, making them prone to wildfires. About 72,000 U.S communities or approximately 45 million homes are now at risk. Most wildfires take place in the West (68%), but a fire could happen and has happened anywhere (South 18.1%, Central 9%, Alaska 2.7%, East 2%, Pacific .02%).
Here are five helpful sites that give good information about wildfires: