VSAT 2022

What is Forest Fire?

Forest fires are caused by natural or man-made fires in tropical, temperate and boreal forests. A wildfire must have three conditions in order to burn: fuel, oxygen and a heat source. Any flammable item surrounding a fire, such as trees, grasses, bushes and even dwellings, is considered fuel. The intensity of a fire is proportional to the amount of fuel present in a certain region. A fire requires oxygen to burn, which is provided by air. Heat sources aid in the ignition of the wildfire by raising the temperature of the fuel. Lightning, smoldering campfires or cigarettes, sweltering breezes and even the Sun can all ignite a wildfire.

In this article, we will discuss forest fire meaning, what do you mean by forest fire?, types, occurrence and forest fire management.   

Forest Fire Definition

Forest fire, also known as bushfire or vegetation fire, is any uncontrolled and unprescribed combustion or burning of plants in a natural context such as a forest, grassland, brushland or tundra that consumes natural fuels and spreads due to environmental conditions (e.g. wind and topography).

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Types of Forest Fire

Depending on the conditions of the fire event, one or multiple types of fires can occur at a time. The types of forest fire are described as follows:

Ground Fire

A ground fire is a form of wildfire that starts beneath the ground, when fuels like debris ignite and burn. Ground fires may eventually burn through the ground surface and become surface flames, depending on the conditions of the fire. These fires spread more slowly than surface fires and can burn for months at a time.

Surface Fire

A surface fire is a fire that can range in intensity from low to high depending on the conditions. Low-lying plants, such as twigs or dried leaves, are the primary fuel sources. Ground fires that have grown large enough to breach the surface are the source of these flames. They may blister a tree canopy, but they will not cause it to burn sufficiently to conduct a fire. Surface fires usually spread slowly, but they can spread quickly if they start in a steeply sloped landscape or are propelled by the wind. Most surface fires, on the other hand, die out before progressing to the next level of classification: crown fires.

Crown Fire

Crown fires are a different sort of wildland fire. These fires burn and spread from one treetop to the next, commonly known as the tree crown or canopy. Crown fires can quickly spread. As a result, crown fires usually advance far faster than lower level fires. Crown fires burn quickly because of their height, which exposes them to wind. Crown fires often evolve into particularly severe fires as a result of their rapid spread.

How Forest Fires Occur?

Forest fires occur usually due to two reasons: natural reasons and man-made reasons.

Natural Causes

Lightning is one of the most common sources of natural forest fires. Lightning strikes parched vegetation and ignites a fire. The majority of these fires occur in isolated areas far from human settlements. Volcanic eruptions can sometimes result in fires caused by hot, burning lava. These types of fires may now be forecast well in advance because of technological advancements, and firefighters can build a buffer zone to contain them. Forest fires can also develop as a result of dry vegetation spontaneously combusting.

Man-made Causes

The most prevalent cause of man-made forest fire is smoking near plants and discarding the cigarette into dry vegetation without extinguishing the flames. Arson or planned fires are another major source of forest fires. Setting fire to property, automobiles or anything else with the intent to inflict damage is known as arson. Wooded fires can also be started by fireworks near forest areas. Other prominent causes of man-made forest fires include mosquito coils and candles, which catch fire over time but go undiscovered until they become a large, uncontrollable fire.

Forest Fire Effects on Environment

Forest fires have a devastating effect on the environment:

  • Homes, wildlife and plants are all destroyed by forest fires. The wildlife environment’s occupants have all been displaced. If the fires are close enough to human housing, people frequently lose their homes as well. Repairing the damages and re-building homes and vegetation areas cost millions of dollars.

  • The soils in the forest are made up of decomposing nutrients and debris that contain a variety of natural components that contribute to the creation of the earth. When a forest fire burns through this soil, the temperature rises to dangerous levels, and all of the nutrients are lost. Firefighters also use a lot of water to put out these raging wildfires. When there is too much water in the soil, it erodes and becomes unusable.

  • Large amounts of smoke are emitted into the air, making breathing difficult and polluting the environment. Humans suffering from allergies and other medical conditions might be seriously harmed by ash and smoke.

  • Workers in the agricultural field have lost income and jobs as a result of the wildfire, which damaged their field produce and animals. When people lose their jobs, the economy suffers, making it more difficult to recover.

Natural Disasters Forest Fire

Forest fires can be considered as a natural disaster if it is caused due to natural reasons such as lightning and volcanic eruptions. These phenomena can not be controlled by humans.

Natural fires account for the vast majority of the total area burned in our woods, despite the fact that human-caused fires account for the majority of the total area burned. This is because human-caused fires are frequently noticed early in their life cycle and may thus be quickly put out. On the other hand, natural fires, that is forest fire disaster, can burn for hours before being detected by fire fighting authorities.

Forest Fire Management

Forest fires are considered as one of the most common threats in a forested environment. The following are some of the most critical steps for forest fire prevention and control:

  • Identification of fire-prone areas and its mapping.

  • Forest fire forecasting technologies are being developed and deployed.

  • Preventative measures must be put in place well ahead of the fire season (i.e. summer).

  • Communication networks should be provided in place for ensuring the timely flow of forest fire information, manpower and materials to fire sites.

  • Regular training of forest staff and other fire protection committee members should be organized in order to update the participants on new information and tools to safeguard forests from fire.

  • To safeguard woods from fires, more public awareness is needed.

  • Forest fire protection will necessitate stringent legal actions.


To sum up, we can say both natural extreme conditions like climate change and human carelessness have contributed towards the forest fire disaster which is a common occurrence during summer heat. People and the government have never before paid much heed to it since they are usually far off from habitation areas but ignoring the ill effects forest fires have on the environment is a mistake we are making constantly. Now, it is about time for the government to take steps to prepare for such fires sooner rather than later, and citizens must exert pressure for this to happen if they want clean, fresh air to breathe.

FAQs on Forest Fire

1. How do forest fires affect soils? 

Soil is rarely sterilised by fire, and ash from burned vegetation contains nutrients that are absorbed by the soil. High-intensity fire, on the other hand, can cause soils to reject water and become vulnerable to significant erosion if the roots that keep the soil in place die.

2. What is a fire ignition triangle?

The fire triangle, also known as the combustion triangle, is made up of the three elements that are required to start and maintain a fire. Three elements are heat, fuel and oxygen.