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Taming Wildfires
Vaidehi Chhaparwal
Intern @ Earth Root Foundation, Jai Hind College, Mumbai
(Published on: 14 June, 2020 @07 PM)

“Wildfire break in the forest of Uttarakhand burning acres of land to ashes.”

“The Amazons are burning”

“Devastating pictures of the Australian bush fire takes social media by storm”

Once every month we read headlines like these, think about them for a minute or two and get back to work because when we are surrounded by economic crisis ,political scandals and a global epidemic , forest fires do not make it to the top of our “save the world” to-do list.

Wildfire, also called forest, bush or vegetation fire, can be described as any uncontrolled and non-prescribed combustion or burning of plants in a natural setting such as a forest, grassland, brush etc. Forest fires can be divided into three categories - ground fires, crown fires and surface fires. Ground and surface fires can be put out relatively easily but crown fires which occur on the canopy of trees are the most destructive and spread rapidly due to the wind.

But what are the causes of these wildfires.? There are two causes of wildfires. Natural cause i.e. when lighting hits earth or it can occur due to spontaneous combustion of dry vegetation. The other cause is man-made causes such as lack of fire safety or human carelessness, for example - smoking and arsons. Well it may not surprise you but 4 out of every 5 wildfires are started by humans.

The major consequences of these fires are increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect and climate change and the use of chemicals in firefighting also adds an additional problem as it can alter soil fertility, biodiversity and affect the composition of vegetation. It also displaces wildlife, alters water cycles and endangers the lives and livelihoods of local communities.

Even though we are aware about forest fires and their consequences the governments prove inefficient to put them out in time.

These are the hazard that we simply cannot control but sometimes we can prevent them. Just by following some simple steps like not discarding cigarettes, matches, and smoking materials from moving vehicles, or anywhere¸ never leaving a fire unattended and completely extinguishing the fire. Contacting your local fire department, if you notice an unattended or out-of-control fire.

After all that’s the least we can do if we are not willing to priorities our “save the world” to-do list.

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