Burning Wild

Time-Lapse shows beauty and Dangers of Wildfires. Created by Jeff Frost, edition, 18 Mar. 2016. New.NationalGeographic.Com, uploaded by Bryan Clark Howard

Trinity Davis, Writer

Wildfires are dangerous and spread quickly. They can be started by a number of ways; arson, lightning/sun contact, burning debris incorrectly, or even throwing out a lit cigarette.

According to news.nationalgeographic.com, historically wildfires are supposed to benefit the environment- clearing underbrush in the forests and triggering the release of seeds in some plants- but since the first half of the 20th century, historians suffered from the desire to suppress all wildfires. Historian Stephen Pyne calls it Pyrophobia. By mid-November, wildfires burned up to 9.8 million acres across the country and 2015 was on the verge of being the biggest fire year in a decade. Pyne watched this crisis develop for a century and has spent his career as an Arizona State professor studying the history of wildfires and wild-land firefighting.

In the recent Northern California wildfires, about 1500 to 5700 homes, businesses, and other structures were destroyed.

On October 8, 1871, a fire in Chicago started and burned through Chicago 10, 1871, destroying buildings and killing at least 300 people and caused at least $200 million in damages, according to History.com. Scientists say it is because of the dry weather and gusty winds that ignited the fire from a building and others think it is because of a cow. On the farm in a barn of Patrick and Catherine O’Leary, one of their cows knocked over a lighted lantern and the barn ignited. Wind speeds caused the fire to grow out of control which led to the fire moving rapidly north and east toward the city. The fire continued to burn for three days. It finally came to a halt when it rained giving firefighters a boost. Much of the infrastructure; transportation systems, remained in intact.

Like all natural disasters, the aftermath effects people the most; cleaning up, rebuilding- mentally and physically, reconnecting, and recouping. Wildfire smoke kills 339,000 people a year according to National Geographic. There has been a ten times increase in asthma attacks and emergency room visits. When a fire occurs the smoke contains airborne microscopic particles that can slip past the bodies defense and reach the deepest parts of the respiratory system which leads to the blood clots forming a thick goo.

In order to prevent wildfires, although they are unpredictable and unplanned, the first action can be eliminating throwing lit cigarettes into naturally exposed areas. Another thing that may prevent wildfires is climate control- releasing greenhouse gases heats up the atmosphere causing weather to be irregular and heat activates sparks on wood. Join a local fire prevention and information program to help out in your community.

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