If you have a fire or water emergency, please call us now at (818) 754-0050

To have the optimal experience while using this site, you will need to update your browser. You may want to try one of the following alternatives:

Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

How do Wildfires Start? What Can You Do to Limit Wildfire Damage?

9/17/2021 (Permalink)

Wildfire burning a forest. Wildfires can be devastating natural disasters. If you need wildfire damage cleanup for your home or business, call SERVPRO of North Hollywood 24/7.

Wildfires are devastating fire disasters that can damage houses and commercial buildings and destroy forests. They can be a terrifying experience for any Los Angeles homeowner. And wildfires are getting more frequent and more intense with climate change. They are a regular occurrence across California, since it is one of the drier and warmer states in the country.

What causes these roaring infernos to ignite and burn everything in their path? And what can a responsible resident do to protect their belongings and reduce the risk of fire, smoke and soot damage to their home?

How Do Wildfires Start?

To light and spread, wildfires need three essential components, known as the fire triangle.

1. Heat

Heat sources from nature and human beings can be responsible for igniting a wildfire. Lighting strikes are a frequent source, and they're often larger and spark greater damage than human caused fires. However, humans are mainly responsible for them, accounting for "nearly 85 percent."

A range of human activities drives wildfires. Some examples are:

Campfires – People fail to extinguish fire pits. Or they build fires in dry or inappropriate locations. In both scenarios, sparks from the pit may blow onto leaf litter, setting it on fire.

Power Lines – Wind gusts and car accidents can knock down electricity lines. Those sparking power lines ignite a flame that spreads further with strong winds. Mitigating this risk is one of the reasons California's utilities enact controversial planned blackouts.

Cigarettes – Because it's a hazard to public health, California cities began banning smoking indoors in public places over 30 years ago. The state added state parks and beaches to the list of restricted areas in 2019. Of course, people don't always follow the rules and often discard their cigarette butts with little care to their surroundings. Plus, California's national parks, including Yosemite and Joshua Tree, do not currently have similar smoking restrictions.

Machinery Usage and Malfunctions – Believe it or not, lawnmower blades, weed whackers and other metallic machinery can create sparks, which fall on parched vegetation. A metal grinder sparked the Zaca Fire, a wildfire that remains the 10th largest in California's history.

Arson – Unfortunately, people do start wildfires on purpose. The Los Angeles Police Department detained multiple arson suspects accused of starting the Palisades Fire earlier in 2021.

2. Fuel

Wildfires burn hottest in dry, arid regions and drought-stricken places with dry, dead grass, leaves and trees for fuel. As a result, woods, meadows, and forested regions are susceptible to flames. For most of the year, thanks to limited rainfall in our area, they're a literal hotbed of flammable material. With enough heat, fires can also use living foliage as a fuel source. Pine trees and other evergreen trees also have combustible oils that burn when exposed to an intense heat source.

3. Oxygen

Fires need heat and fuel to ignite, but it's wind that spreads the flames to burn millions of acres. How quickly can wildfires spread? The stronger the wind, the faster the blaze spreads. Believe it or not, a wildfire can move up to 14 miles per hour, a threat to everything, including homes, in its path.

Strong winds also blow embers and ash to fresh fuel sources, creating new hot spots and flames. The Thomas Fire in 2017 is an excellent example of the way high winds can increase a wildfire's spread. The largest California wildfire at the time spread fast, with reports of it moving at the pace of a football field per second!

What Can You Do to Limit Wildfire Damage?

Weather satellites have made it easier for firefighters to anticipate the path of existing fires by tracking smoke and heat signatures. This gives communities a chance to plan evacuations, so emergency responders can work on containment while reducing the risk to human life.

However, there are several things you can do to both reduce the risk wildfire and help your community recover from one:

Be Careful With Fire – Being fire smart and fire safe is the main thing you can do to limit wildfire damage. When breaking camp, smoking a cigarette or dousing a fire pit, take extra care to fully extinguish the heat. One careless act and one small ember can literally destroy acres of forest and threaten lives, buildings and more.

Prepare Your Home or Business - Creating a defensible zone around your property. Draw up an evacuation plan. There are many things you can do today to prepare your home or business for wildfires.

Reduce Your Impact on the Climate – Human-caused climate change is increasing and exacerbating natural disasters, including wildfires. Consider carpooling, avoiding single-use products, saving water and engaging in other environmentally beneficial activities to help reduce the impact of climate change.

Give Back – Choose a charity and donate money or items to areas impacted by wildfires. You can also support relief efforts by volunteering your time with a national recovery organization, such as the American Red Cross.

Need Wildfire Damage Cleanup? Call SERVPRO of North Hollywood!

Should you become the victim of wildfire damage, don't hesitate to call SERVPRO of North Hollywood for LA's best fire damage restoration service. We're here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with an emergency response to any size fire disaster. Let us clean and restore your home or business from fire, smoke and soot damage "Like it never even happened."

P.S. Twitter is a great resource for staying informed whenever wildfires threaten Los Angeles and surrounding cities. Follow @LACoFDPIO and @NotifyLA for real-time incident updates. You can also follow us @SERVPRONoHo for water, fire and mold damage mitigation tips.

Other News

View Recent Posts