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Consequences of a forest fire

An uncontrolled forest fire can sweep away everything in its path, spreading far away, bypassing rivers, roads, and firebreaks. In hot, dry climates these fires are more likely to occur. On average, each year there are between 60,000 and 80,000 forest fires that destroy between 3 and 10 million hectares. In this AgroCorrn article, we talk about the consequences of a forest fire.

You may also be interested in: How to prevent forest fires

Causes of forest fires

Wildfires or forest fires are sometimes caused by humans through negligence and other times they occur naturally , although the latter occur much less frequently. Natural fires are caused by volcanoes , lightning, spontaneous combustion, or sparks caused by rockfall.

But most of the time, wildfires are started by human negligence : by arsonists, by equipment that produces sparks, poorly extinguished cigarette butts, unattended fires, agricultural burning or by power lines.

Positive consequences of a forest fire

Wildfires have different effects on the environment, depending on their size and frequency. Although the damage to the environment from a wildfire is obvious, it can sometimes also have positive consequences. Fires clean up dead or decaying matter , allowing new plants to grow. It is a form of regeneration.

Another benefit is maintaining the balance of the ecosystem by eliminating harmful insects and diseased plants. By destroying trees and shrubs it can also increase the light reaching the ground, allowing seeds to grow after a period of time after the forest fire.

Sometimes wildfires increase the amount of diversity of plants and animals in an ecosystem. In fact, some plants need a fire to germinate and grow.

Negative consequences of a forest fire

When the frequency of wildfires in a particular region is high, the impact can be devastating. The natural cycles of forests are interrupted and native species disappear , while invasive plants proliferate.

Wildfires increase the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect and climate change . In addition, they generate ash and destroy nutrients. Finally, fires in forested areas of the planet erode the soil, causing floods and landslides.

How to prevent a forest fire

Finally, we are going to discuss several tips to prevent forest fires , especially very useful to avoid those that are produced by human negligence.

  • Do not throw cigarette butts or matches or matches, as the slightest spark can produce a flame and hence a fire, especially in areas where there is dry plant matter.
  • Do not throw glass , plastic or glass bottles, cans, sprays or other combustible materials in the woods.
  • Do not light bonfires or bonfires in the forest, only do it in the areas equipped for it with the indicated permission, because no matter how much we think we know how to control it, the fire can get out of control by a single spark when there is a little wind.
  • If you find remains of bonfires or campfires with embers, extinguish them with water, do not pass by and leave them.
  • If someone is observed with suspicious behavior, throwing any of the aforementioned materials, making bonfires in non-authorized areas, etc., they must be reported to the police .
  • Do not enter with cars or vehicles of any kind in areas where the ground has dry vegetation, such as bushes or grasses, since the simple contact with the hot exhaust pipe, especially if it is a day with strong sun, can cause a fire.
  • Place firebreak zones in areas where it is known that there is a facility for fires, according to the history of other years or due to the changes that have occurred in the area and that lead to this disaster.

What to do if there is a forest fire

In case we find ourselves in the situation of being in a forest fire and we wonder what to do in a forest fire , it is advisable to follow these tips:

  • Notify emergencies or the police as soon as you suspect that there is a fire, for example as soon as you see smoke. It is advisable to detail the location to the emergency services as much as possible.
  • Observe the direction in which the fire is moving and see if it is possible to go out in the opposite direction easily, if so, do it as soon as possible, always in the opposite direction to the wind since it guides the fire.
  • Being in a wooded area on a mountain, you have to go down the mountain as soon as possible since the fire tends to rise and as long as it can continue to climb it will not spread as much to the side and even less down.
  • If we go by car, it is best to close the windows and turn on the lights and only cross the burned area if the fire is not widespread and it is necessary to flee in that direction due to the impossibility of escaping to another. If the fire increases a lot it is better to turn the car around.
  • In case the fire surrounds us, it is best to look for pieces of earth that have already burned since the fire will not return to this area even if it surrounds us, since it has already been consumed.
  • If the flames are very close and you cannot flee, it is best to try to cover yourself with dirt as much as possible, dig a hole or lie on the ground using as much earth as possible.
  • Do not try to cross the flames, but if it is really essential, it must be done only if there is viability of what is on the other side and by wetting the clothes well first, protecting the head with a wet cloth if possible.

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