The Science of Wildfires

Wildfires exist in a world of their own, with their own dynamics and their own weather. Before you can fight a fire, you need to understand the forces that drive it. The lesson of this summer, however


Wildfires result from a confluence of fuel, dryness and some kind of trigger. Each factor contributes to the severity of the blaze

--Fuel means flammable solids--grass, pine needles, undergrowth, smaller trees--that, with oxygen, feed the fire

--Dryness can be caused by short-term weather patterns with low humidity or by a lengthy drought that parches the landscape

--Triggers can be as natural as a lightning strike, as innocent as a campfire or as sinister as an arsonist

FUEL It's a dangerous recipe: decades of fighting every forest fire have left many areas dangerously full of fuel--sticks, fallen timber, pine...

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