Types of Wildfires

Wildfires are very detrimental to the environment and often destroy anything in their way.  They burn down property and ravage wildlife areas, taking lives in the process.  Sadly, wildfires are deadly and account for the deaths of many people and animals.  These fires often start from grass or small brush, and can escalate to destroy thousands of acres of land.   

Wildfires require three main components to thrive: oxygen, fuel, and heat.  Wind often fuels fires with oxygen, and vegetation feeds the flames.  In a short amount of time, a small fire can grow to the tops of trees and destroy a forest.   Here are several types of wildfires.  

Ground fires  

These fires burn near the ground in a forest, often in highly organic soil or roots.  They destroy vegetation as well as leaves and branches on the ground.  Ground fires are dangerous because they are very hard to detect from the air and difficult to control.  They may also rekindle, adding to the challenge of stopping the fire.  

Surface fires  

Surface fires burn shrubs, larger plants, and the lower branches of trees.  They often move fast and burn dead brush and undergrowth.  This type of fire does not damage trees very much unless it grows very large, and can actually be beneficial to the forest if it is controlled in time.  

Crown fires  

Crown fires burn in the treetops.  They are hot, intense, and move quickly through the forest.  Trees will often lose 20-30% of their crowns before the fire moves on.  Crown fires are very hard to control because of their heat and intensity.  

Mass fires  

These kinds of fires are the largest and most dangerous.  Firestorms are mass fires that don’t move a lot, but begin to spin due to the wind.  The temperature inside a firestorm can reach up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.  Another kind of mass fire is a conflagration, which happens when a crown fire spreads extremely fast.  Both types of mass fires can spread embers in front of them in a process known as spotting, which starts smaller fires ahead of the main fire.

There are several types of wildfires, ranging from small ground fires to massive conflagrations.  All are destructive and harmful, costing millions of dollars in damages each year.