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Why Does it Take So Long to Put Out Wildfires

Wildfires- All you need to know

Tuesday, 24th August 2021

A massive wildfire in the United States has the ability to bound over rivers creating infernal flames that renders thousands of people homeless. These formidable whirling tornadoes of fire, intensified by warming climate now burn hundreds of thousands of acres of land, about twice as much as they did in the 1800s. Moreover, it can take quite a while for the fire to finally go out. Here’s why.

According to wildfire manages, the reasons behind this are myriad and often not easy to explain.

Evans Kuo, a “Type 1” incident commander assigned to the nation’s biggest and most dangerous wildfires said, “How do we balance that risk to allow firefighters to be successful without transferring too much of that risk to the public? I wish it wasn’t the case, but it’s a zero-sum game.”


What makes it so long?

One of the main reasons is the safety of the firefighters. Kuo says sometimes he gets pleas from residents to have his men go into the deep where they are sure to get killed. “I’m not putting people at risk”, he said.

Putting out fires of such magnitude requires rain and cold weather blended with snow, a phenomenon that is weeks away for several states in the US.


Have there been alterations in wildfires?


As per Kuo, who has been fighting wildfires for 30 years with the U.S. Forest Service, spending the early years of his career as a frontline firefighter with groundcrews, wildfires during his early days were nowhere like the one's today that cover almost 150 square miles.

He said, “That’s kind of redefining what the new normal is. We get these mega-fires.”


Is wildfire suppression in the past a reason and has drought had any role to play in it?

As per experts, fire suppression, with its accumulation of brush and debris, lends the fire the ability to clamber up quickly right up to higher branches and even crowns of large trees, creating the mammoth wildfires that can swallow up an entire stretch of the forest.

Human-induced climate change has also brought on decades of drought, which in turn have led to minimal moisture contents in forests that have become bone dry. This causes wildfires to spread even more rapidly.

Human-caused wildfire is a new phenomenon with “Homes, subdivisions, communications towers, gas pipelines, railways and roadways, transmission lines” in forested areas.


Dearth of firefighters

The US is in short supply of firefighters with just about 20 Type 1 response teams to handle the country’s biggest wildfires fires.


The News Talkie Bureau



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