Wildfires spread through dry forests, brush, and grasslands at terrific speed, destroying thousands of acres of timber, homes, and everything else in their paths. All of this can result from a mere spark, sometimes from an act of nature, such as a lightening strike, but often from some human action. While most of these actions are unintentional, the results are unfortunately the same. Thousands of acres are charred, homes burned, wildlife killed or left homeless, and sometimes, lives are lost. Everyone needs to be aware of what they can do to prevent these tragedies from happening.
Obviously, during an especially dry period the risk of fire is greatly increased and restrictions may be imposed on trash burning, campfires, and other activities that involve fire. These restrictions should always be observed. However, even under normal conditions fires can result from campfires or intentional burning. When and where these fires are set is critical. Campfires should be built in a cleared area, free of adjoining grasses or brush, and never when the wind is sufficient to blow hot embers into adjacent woodlands or grasslands. They should be maintained and watched at all times, and, of course, they should be completely extinguished when it is time to break camp. Some burning of grass, debris, or trash, is intentional, however, this should also be done only in safe areas away from any potential fuel. And once again, these should not be started in high winds or in very dry conditions.
Fires can be started from other activities that many people consider relatively harmless. Tossing a lighted cigarette from a car window, or firing off firecrackers, or even sparklers, can cause a major fire in drought conditions. It takes very little time for a spark from one of these activities to ignite some dry brush. A small fire can rapidly spread into a major disaster within a very short period of time, and often the person responsible remains totally unaware that they were the cause. Motorized vehicles produce enough heat in their exhaust systems to ignite dry grass and brush. Vehicles like ATVs that travel through rough terrain and brushy areas can also be a fire hazard. In these areas, a slight backfire from a vehicle can be more than enough to produce a fire.
Preventing wildfires is a matter of common sense and maintaining good habits. In any area that is particularly dry, keeping control over anything that might produce heat or flame is critical.