- An uncontrolled fire in combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area. Other names such as brush fire, bushfire, forest fire, desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, peat fire, vegetation fire, and veldfire may be used to describe the same phenomenon depending on the type of vegetation being burned. A wildfire differs from other fires by its extensive size, the speed at which it can spread out from its original source, its potential to change direction unexpectedly, and its ability to jump gaps such as roads, rivers and fire breaks. Wildfires are characterized in terms of the cause of ignition, their physical properties such as speed of propagation, the combustible material present, and the effect of weather on the fire.
|Abstract from DBPedia||
A wildfire, forest fire, bushfire, wildland fire or rural fire is an unplanned, unwanted, uncontrolled fire in an area of combustible vegetation starting in rural areas and urban areas. Depending on the type of vegetation present, a wildfire can also be classified more specifically as a forest fire, brush fire, bushfire (in Australia), desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, peat fire, prairie fire, vegetation fire, or veld fire. Wildfires are distinct from beneficial uses of fire, called controlled burns; though controlled burns can turn into wildfires. Fossil charcoal indicates that wildfires began soon after the appearance of terrestrial plants 420 million years ago. The occurrence of wildfires throughout the history of terrestrial life invites conjecture that fire must have had pronounced evolutionary effects on most ecosystems' flora and fauna. Earth's carbon-rich vegetation, seasonally dry climates, atmospheric oxygen, and widespread lightning and volcanic ignitions create good conditions for fires. Wildfires are often classified by characteristics like cause of ignition, physical properties, combustible material present, and the effect of weather on the fire. Wildfire behavior and severity result from a combination of factors such as available fuels, physical setting, and weather. Climatic cycles that include wet periods that create substantial fuels and then are followed by drought and heat often proceed severe wildfires. These cycles are made worse by extreme weather caused by climate change. Wildfires can cause damage to property and human life, although naturally occurring wildfires may have beneficial effects on native vegetation, animals, and ecosystems that have evolved with fire. High-severity wildfire creates complex early seral forest habitat (also called "snag forest habitat"), which often has higher species richness and diversity than an unburned old forest. Many plant species depend on the effects of fire for growth and reproduction. Wildfires in ecosystems where wildfire is uncommon or where non-native vegetation has encroached may have strongly negative ecological effects. Similarly, human societies are can be severely impacted by fires, including direct health impacts of smoke, destruction of property, especially in wildland–urban interfaces, economic and ecosystem services losses, and contamination of water and soil. Wildfires are among the most common forms of natural disaster in some regions, including Siberia, California, and Australia. Areas with Mediterranean climates or in the taiga biome are particularly susceptible. At a global level, human practices have made wildfires worse than naturally would happen, with a doubling in land area burned by wildfires when compared to natural levels. Humans have contributed to major factors to increased wildfires, increased heat and dry periods due to climate change and other more direct human activities, such as land-use change and wildfire suppression. This increase in fires, creates a negative feedback loop releasing naturally sequestered carbon back into the atmosphere, creating further global warming. Aggressive wildfire suppression aimed at minimizing fire and ending traditional land management methods practiced by indigenous peoples has contributed to accumulation of fuel loads, increasing the risk of large, catastrophic fires, especially in certain colonial contexts like the United States. Modern forest management taking an ecological perspective engages in controlled burns to mitigate this risk and promote natural forest life cycles.