Every year, wildfires burn million of acres of private, state, and federal lands across the US. They
destory vegatative landscapes, people's properties, and unfortunately lives are lost. All wildfires are either human-caused or started
by nature (such as lightning). However, 9 out of every 10 wildfires are human-caused; either unintentionally or sometimes intentionally.
In 2020, wildfires burned 10,274,679 acres—averaging 176.4 acres per fire. Since 2000, if you do the math, it averages to 13.4
acres burned every minute!
The Fire, Weather & Avalanche Center is dedicated to educating and informing the public about wildfires of
all sizes and severities. The FWAC Wildfire Map aims to bring real-time
wildfire information to every so they can plan. As a part of our mission, we want everyone to know some general knowledge about wildfires.
Check out all the information below! Visit our wildfire statistics page to see stats.
When most people think of wildfires, they think about timbered forests burning. But, wildfires burn in numerous types of vegetation.
Nevertheless, we all need to do our part to prevent wildfires, or forest fires, from breaking out. How does fire even work? The Fire Triangle!
Heat. A heat source is responsible for the initial ignition of fire, and is also needed to maintain the fire and enable it to spread. Heat allows fire to spread by drying out and preheating nearby fuel and warming surrounding air. Fuel. Fuel is any kind of combustible material. It's characterized by its moisture content, size, shape, quantity and the arrangement in which it is spread over the landscape. The moisture content determines how easily it will burn. Oxygen. Air contains about 21% oxygen, and most fires require at least 16% oxygen content to burn. Oxygen supports the chemical processes that occur during fire. When fuel burns, it reacts with oxygen from the surrounding air, releasing heat and generating combustion products (gases, smoke, embers, etc.).
There are many ways that wildfires might start, such as campfires, machinery, smoking, and more. Follow these tips to help prevent these fires:
Don't build campfires in areas where they're prohibited, in hazardous & dry conditions, under trees, near heavy fuels, or in windy
Use already established fire rings/pits or build your own by dig a foot deep hole surrounded by rocks. Make sure 10-feet around the
pit is free from debris and vegetation.
Keep your fire under control. Have a bucket or other water source available; along with a shovel.
When you're done with your campfire, DROWN it with water and use a shovel to stir ashes. Make sure there is not heat, embers, or
any burning fuels remaining.
Be careful driving through or parking on dry grass or brush. Hot exhaust pipes can start the grass on fire. You may not even notice
the fire until it's too late.
Never let your brake pads wear too thin; metal on metal makes sparks.
Mow before 10 a.m., but never when it's windy or excessively dry. Remember that lawn mowers are designed to mow lawns, not weeds or
dry grass. Metal lawnmower blades striking rocks can create sparks and start fires.
When doing any yardwork or work outdoors with mechanical equipment, keep a shovel and a water source handy.
Industrial workers, like loggers, should have a way to fight a fire themselves; such as a dozer or water truck. Fire management
agencies, like the US Forest Service, set industrial fire protection levels (IFPL) to determine what activities are allowed in the
forest and how to mitigate any fire starts.
Help protect your home and stop the spread of wildland fires by following these seven steps.
Keep flammable objects (lawn mowers, oil or gas cans, propane tanks and wood piles) at least 30 feet away from the home at all times. Move flammables, such as lawn furniture and toys, during wildfire activity.
Keep roofs, gutters, decks and patios clear of leaves, pine needles or other flammables at all times.
Remove flammable mulch and vegetation within 5 feet of the home and replace with nonflammable material.
Remove tree or shrub branches that overhang within 10 feet of your house, roof or chimney.
Keep lawns watered and mowed, or if water-conserving, make sure debris is removed within 30 feet of home.
Trim tree limbs 10 feet above the ground (these are called ladder fuels).
Install 1/8-inch metal mesh screens over vents and under decks to prevent ember intrusion.
Ready. Set. Go.
In recent years, a big push in the "Ready. Set. Go" campaign has taken place. This means having an evacuation plan, knowing when and
how to use it, and being ready at a moment's notice to leave. Know what it means when officials say "under an evacuation order." Check
out this video from California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection:
LEVEL 1: READY. Residents should be aware of the danger that exists in their area, monitor emergency services websites and
local media outlets for information. This is the time for preparation and precautionary movement of persons with special needs, mobile
property and (under certain circumstances) pets and livestock.
LEVEL 2: SET. You must prepare to leave at a moment's notice. This level indicates there is significant danger to your area,
and residents should either voluntarily relocate to a shelter or with family/friends outside of the affected area, or if choosing to
remain, to be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice. Residents MAY have time to gather necessary items, but doing so is at their own
risk. This may be the only notice that you receive.
LEVEL 3: GO. LEAVE IMMEDIATELY! Danger to your area is current or imminent, and you should evacuate immediately. If you
choose to ignore this advisement, you must understand that emergency services may not be available to assist you further. DO NOT delay
leaving to gather any belongings or make efforts to protect your home.
Here are some additional resources to further your wildfire knowledge: