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My Thoughts About Forest Fires: Devastating Natural Disaster

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Forest Fires have become one of our nation’s biggest obstacles. In the world, there are 10,000 wildfires that burn up to four million to five million acres a year. Most wildfires are started by one of two ways either by humans or naturally started. Most natural fires are caused by a flash of lighting and rarely they are started by combustion such as leaves, dry fuel, sawdust, etc. Most human-started fires are started by arson, discarded cigarettes, car accidents, sparks from different types of equipment, or even a campfire left alone.

More than nighty five percent of forest fires are caused by humans’ and somehow could have been prevented. Humans can prevent forest fires easier than they can start them. A cigarette butt should be completely extinguished before being tossed on the ground. Something as simple as a cigarette butt could cause grass or dried leaves to ignite and fire to spread quickly on a dry windy day. A good rule of thumb is to not toss cigarette butts out. Burning a campfire properly can also be a way we can help prevent forest fires. Before a campfire is started, we should check for burn bans and wind conditions. A campfire should have a barrier, and an area around the barrier should be cleared of flammables. Always make sure the fire is completely put out and cold before leaving it. Camp fires or brush fires should never be left unattended. If they get out of hand, you should contact 911 immediately for assistance. By being cautious of our action’s humans can play a big part in preventing forest fires.

Forest Fires do a great amount of damage to the environment as well as humans and animals. A simple fire causes the carbon dioxide level to increase into the atmosphere causing climate change. Ashes from the fire can erode the soil and cause major damage to the nutrients causing landslides and flooding to the earth as well. People are affected greatly from the smoke which can cause major health problems to their lungs and other parts of the body. Some people also get very bad burns from trying to help others or themselves from the fire. Forest fires can also affect the animals negatively. While some animals can smell a fire from miles away and escape safely, a number of animals will die during forest fires because they are not sure how to react. Fires can destroy their homes, nests, babies will often get left behind, and their food sources will no longer be available.

While there are many bad things fires do there is also some good in a forest fire. There are many dead trees and plants in the forest and while it is burning it will clean them out to enable new growth, which can otherwise take much longer. The decomposing plant matter goes into the ground causing new plants to come up. It also clears out brush, logs, and leaves so that the sun can reach new places to grow new healthy plants. Also, it can kill insects that thrive on vegetation. Young healthy trees that survive the fire can often get growth spurts because the bigger trees are out of the way allowing the young trees to get more sunlight. Diseased vegetation and trees are also eliminated. Another good thing that fires do are to cause seeds to crack open and germinate and cause certain fungi’s spores to release. Forest fires can play an important role in an ecosystem’s natural cleansing cycle.

Forests play an important role in our environment. Other than their natural beauty, trees remove carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Forests can prevent erosion by absorbing rainfall into the roots of trees and preventing water from running off and top soil from sliding. The wood we use to build our homes and heat with come from these trees, they also provide shelter to animals and insects. We depend on trees for many things and they are vital to our environment and yet we are allowing them to disappear.

Deforestation is where they clear a large area of trees and turn that land into different things such as ranches, farms, or urban uses. When they cut a large mass of trees at a time it releases all the carbon stored in the trees into the air making it the second largest human-caused source of carbon dioxide. Many animals are losing their homes because soon there will not be a forest left for them to live in. On average eighteen million acres of the forest is lost each year due to deforestation. Since deforestation started, we have already lost half of our forest, and at the current rate in one hundred years there will not be any forest left.

There are different methods of deforestation such as manually cutting down and removing the trees for logging purposes or selective cutting trees for clearing certain areas.. Or most commonly they cut the trees down leave them lay then burn them so they can release minerals back into the soil for crop planting. Forest fires are kind of a natural way to remove the trees and begin something new on the previous land. Deforestation has become a very big problem in the world today and with the forest decreasing quickly there will not be one left.

With Camp Fire (2018) being the biggest fire in California and the biggest in the United States since 1918 a lot of California has been damaged. On November 8th, 2018 a fire was seen in Butte County that burned 153,336 acres of land. As of now they still are not certain on how it started, and it is still under investigation. In all 18,804 buildings were destroyed, eighty-six people were killed and twelve injured. Also, there were 6 firefighters that were injured. The fire was contained on November 25th, 2018. Not only were humans affected by the wildfire, but many animals were in danger as well. While most families heard about the fire, packed up and took their animals along. Many farmers and ranchers were trying their best to get their animals to safety or where they thought was safe. A lot of animals were rescued from the fire and taken to shelters for care. Most shelters were open for any animals in need and they brought in other animals to help care and comfort them. While people cleaned up their lands and helped others there were also many companies hired to help do a lot of clean up. Three companies that were hired to help clean were fired for posing photos of destroyed property. One man from the companies posted a photo on Facebook of the damage but it also had a burnt house cat with a beer bottle up to its mouth with a caption that read “Dude… I was just chilling with my homies, having a couple cold ones, and BAM… damn fire breaks out.” Because the forest was a second growth forest the fire spread further and faster than it normally would. The county is hopeful that while rebuilding more modern and safer structures, they can manage the surrounding forest and prevent any future fires from spreading so quickly if it would ever occur again.

With climate change becoming an issue and warm conditions contributing to forest fires more research and fire detections are being sought. Currently there are fire towers and satellites used to monitor fire conditions. A man named Carl Pennybacker and his team have been working on a system called FUEGO (Fire Urgency Estimator in Geosynchronous Orbit). This system could locate and track fires and dispatch fire fighters before the fire spreads. He is hoping the system will be operational in the next few years.

Other studies are also being done by a couple high school students in California. Their study of weather data could be used to predict wildfires. They use Googles TensorFlow machine-learning system that captures many images. It can monitor the moisture content in the forest. If the moisture content is found to be low there is a greater chance for a wildfire. The way California monitors the moisture level now takes human labor, this new system will eliminate that. California fire department is researching the study of the two high school student’s recent submission.

Altogether forest fires are very devastating and would be a terrible natural disaster. Many people every year are affected by fires. Even though some fires are very devastating some forest fires that are not as big can help clear out the forest in a more natural way and help grow new fresh trees. Bigger fires take a longer recovery time and sometimes require replanting. Hopefully with all the new technologies and research we will someday be able to prevent forest fires, until then the forest will continue to heal themselves.

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