Yet again, wildfire season is upon us. Even with all of the snow the Sacramento Mountains have seen this winter, all of us still need to use caution, and common sense to be fire-smart. Understanding causes of wildfires, and fire behavior can be key in prevention efforts. Furthermore, being prepared, is vital. The scary reality is that wildfire can strike anywhere, and even when you least expect it.
We have definitely had an odd winter season this past year, and we’ve had some crazy winter storms. However, to be considered in “good shape” for fire season, our grounds would still require a substantial, additional amount of moisture. Even in a couple week’s span, several days of non-stop warm temperatures can dry everything out, creating crisp, dry vegetation that is very easily ignitable. However, even if the warm months followed a high moisturized winter season, being fire-smart and aware can be imperative to prevention efforts.
What causes wildfires? Well, unfortunately, we do. According to The National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior, “As many as 90% of Wildland fires are caused by humans.” That’s right; we are mostly to blame. What’s even more astounding, is that even with all of the fire prevention education provided all over, and even with the visible proof of charred grounds, and homes destroyed, humans still tend to neglect and ignore the signs, and to take preventive actions. What people do not seem to understand, is that once lit, a wildfire can and will destroy everything in its path. It is left up to the winds of nature, and the courage and sacrifice of wildland firefighters, and the pilots and crews of the aircrafts that drop fire retardant, to tame and stop the flaming beast.
Several causes of human-endorsed wildfires, are related to cigarette-butts being flicked to the ground, or tossed out of the window of a vehicle; falling into the dry brush, igniting surrounding twigs, tumbleweeds, and grass, allowing it to spread wherever it may. Other wildfires have been caused by campfires that were left unattended and not put out enough to prevent wind blown sparks to ignite nearby brush. Additionally some wildfires have started as a result of debris burns gone out of control, without an adequate water source within a proper reach, or left unattended. Understanding what we humans can do to prevent wildfires is a huge responsibility we have, to share this planet with all other life forms, including our own given the despairing fact that wildfires have been known to have caused fatalities of citizens, as well as the lives of brave men and women firefighters who had risked everything to protect other people and their properties.
As mentioned before, being prepared for a wildfire can be just as vital as prevention. There are certain things that can be done around one’s home and property that can significantly minimize the risk of loss. The National Fire Protection Association & Firewise Communities provide excellent, free resources for everyone. These resources are perfect for homeowners when it comes to learning how to be prepared. They provide tips and knowledge of firewise landscaping, disaster plans, and firewise construction such as fire-resistant roofing materials, walls, and windows. Visit firewise.org to access all of this resourcesful and possibly life-saving information, which as mentioned is free for anyone to view. Additionally, you may visit your local fire department for more information, or to visit with a local firefighter for more tips on fire prevention and safety.
We all need to keep in mind how quickly wildfires can strike and spread. We all need to be thankful to live in such a world where there are brave, irreplaceable men and women firefighters who leave their own families and homes to protect other people and property when a wildfire ignites. We all need to be fire-smart, and aware, all of the time.
For more information on fire causes, behavior, preparedness, and prevention, or if you are at all interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter, visiting your local fire department, is the perfect place to start!