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Forest fires don't start so easily - Experiments done with firemaking materials

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posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 11:18 AM
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a reply to: DigginFoTroof

There's entire species of trees that rely on forest fires to grow and germinate.
For example around the Grand canyon if you ever visit there you'll notice most of the trees are scorched and piles of wood and brush are all over the place. The canyon creates it's own weather system and lightning is rather common, all it takes is one strike of lightning and a fire can start.
Although, in the inhabited areas these fires are controlled and prevented. But they only do this because of how common it is.




posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 02:42 PM
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I live in a wooded swamp basically. In front of my home I have a fire pit. One summer I had a smallish fire going in the pit and stopped minding it for a while. I don't remember how dry it was that day, but it wasn't windy. After I got back around to the fire, I noticed that some fifteen feet into the woods the leaves had caught fire, in the swampy area. It hadn't gotten too big but I couldn't just stomp it out. Lucky the garden hose was enough to put it out, as it was only a few minutes from a wild fire that would have burned a lot of acreage if I hadn't caught it.

Apparently a large enough hot ash landed in a dry enough pile of lives to ignite a fire that spread across the leaves on the ground of a swamp, always damp and mostly wet. On a day without high winds, it seems that the most improbable scenario would be a wild fire under those conditions, regardless, it caught fire and spread quickly.

ETA: Another fire pit in front of my hunting buddy's camper managed to catch fire to a manicured lawn about an inch high. The grass was so dry that it looked brown and dead, and the winds were pretty good that day. The area was cleared of leaves for about twenty feet, but the lawn fire got right up to the leaves. Again, the trusty garden hose prevailed, even though it was half frozen and hard to use.
edit on 16-11-2018 by MichiganSwampBuck because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 04:56 PM
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Follow the route of the proposed new rail system, that will probably lead you to the pyro maniac



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 05:39 PM
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a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

I tried to help put out a grass fire in Texas yesterday. It was burning in three spots, and the one I went to wasn't too bad. I used the truck extinguisher to knock it pretty much completely out, then the spots I put out flared up again. I grabbed the bag our chains came in and tried to knock the smaller spots out, but within two minutes the fire had spread to where it was too big to knock down with anything short of a hose.
edit on 11/16/2018 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 07:38 PM
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originally posted by: kelbtalfenek
a reply to: DigginFoTroof

Was doing a training exercise in CampPen back in 1990, just off to the side of our shop. One of my buddies lit a cigarette with a match and then tossed the match on the ground. Within seconds all the dried grass (because it's summer in sunny SoCal) within 3 feet was alight. We tried to stamp out the fire but it was too late. In about 5 minutes the fire had spread easily 150-200 feet on all sides. Lucky we were close to some blacktop. We were all cursing Harris, the guy who's match had started the fire.

Even though the fire dept. came, there wasn't much they could do, the fire burned up probably 50 or 60 acres before it got under control. Could have been more, I'm not really sure. We just messed with Harris every time we saw anything burnt. He earned his nickname "Smokey Harris" that day.

So what I'm trying to say is: Fires can start quite easily, all it takes is the right conditions...and yes even a single mis-thrown match can burn 100 acres or 10,000 acres.


This impromptu experiment that your buddy did is much more relevant than drying out pine needles in an oven. What most people East of the Sierras don't realize (and that's probably most of the US population) is that the Camp Fire around Paradise and the Woolsey Fire around Malibu are NOT forest fires. A forest is defined as "region dominated by trees". By that definition, only about 18% of California is forested; the rest is covered by different ecosystems, or biomes.

The biome around Malibu is considered a Chaparral community; it consists of annual grass, manzanita, scrub oak, and various other deciduous plants. The biome around Paradise was a combination of Chaparral and Savanna (which is mostly grass dominated). There are very few other regions of the US where you get this kind of ground cover.

Another unique situation in California are the winds. About 90+% of the time, we get cool, moist winds blowing eastward off the Pacific Ocean. But starting in about October and lasting for several months, we get high pressure systems that build up in the Great Basin out in Nevada. They will typically park there for 1 to 10 days at a time. When they do, they produce warm, drying westward flowing winds ("Santa Anas") that blow downslope on the western side of the Sierras and out to sea, on the coast. I could be wrong, but I don't think this set of conditions exists routinely any where else in the country. The downslope winds on the morning the Camp Fire started were 40 to 50 MPH. These winds will blow sparks and cinders a half mile to a mile in front of the actual flames. Under those conditions, the flame front expands so fast that there is practically no technology on earth that can stop it until it starts running out of fuel. In the case of the Malibu fire, that was the Pacific Ocean.

And BTW, these Chaparral and Savanna ground covers are not "overgrown" like most forests are. They are at the same density as they were before we gringos arrived. So forest management or mismanagement is not an issue. These ecosystems seem to be doing exactly what Mother Nature intended.



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 07:39 PM
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a reply to: 1947boomer

So logging won't help?



posted on Nov, 16 2018 @ 09:19 PM
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Correct.

As a matter of fact, and at the risk of being provocative, I don't think logging would remedy the overgrowth in real forests, either. I've been researching this the last week and it turns out that the rate at which biomass is being removed (harvesting plus mortality) has not kept up with growth for at least 60 years in US Forests. Nationwide, US forests now have about 60% greater biomass than they did in 1953. Recent papers in Nature suggest that probably about 70% of this increase is due to CO2 fertilization due to the increase in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere since, roughly, 1900. Depending on your point of view, you could describe this buildup of fuel in the nation's forests as "bad" because it is "overgrowth and clutter" caused by anti-business policies that prevent logging, or "good" because it is "greening" due to CO2 fertilization caused by burning fossil fuels. I wouldn't be surprised if some people try to argue both at the same time.

Be that as it may, I think you would have to start harvesting timber at a rate about 3 or 4 times faster than we're doing now to keep up with the growth rate AND cut away at the 60% that's already built up. There's no business case for that magnitude or effort in my opinion and that's probably why it's not being done. Opening up additional timber tracts on federal land for foresting would probably result in cheaper lumber costs for the forest product companies and thereby increase their profit margin. And I don't have a problem with that personally, as long as it is done responsibly. However, I don't think it would make a dent in the forest overgrowth problem.

At the risk of being even more provocative, it also seems that overgrowth in the forests, even though it is real, is not the major cause of these large, hot, and destructive fires. In a recent paper in Science, a group of forest researchers examined all the major fires in the western US since the 1970s. They found that there was a major step increase in the number and intensity of these mega fires beginning in 1980. They are now occurring at a rate at least 4 times the previous rate. They examined all the factors involved (biomass buildup, forestry practices, etc.) and they found the answer was very simple: Spring comes earlier, snowmelt finishes earlier, Summers are hotter, the dry season lasts longer. The net result is that forest fuels are uniformly drier throughout the year. By the time you get to the end of the fire season, the Fire Load Index is off-scale. BTW, the greatest increase in these kinds of fires occurs not in California but in the Northern Rockies.

Food for thought.

a reply to: Phage



posted on Nov, 17 2018 @ 02:41 AM
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My parents have a firebox, and like to have nice big burning log (6 inches diameter) burning away during the WInter days and nights. To get these to burn, they first have to be dried out for months. This is done by putting them in a dry shed.

Next thing is to actually get them to burn. That requires careful placement of burnable materials; newspaper, kitchen roll, kindling (small twigs and dry leaves), larger twigs, firelighters (small cubes of flammable material), small branches (1cm diameter), bits of 2x4 wood. The idea is to get one to carbonize and ignite, so that it carbonizes and ignites the larger item above it by flame contact. The heat output of a 6 inch log is about 3 kilowatts, much the same as a three bar electric fire.



posted on Nov, 17 2018 @ 02:12 PM
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a reply to: 1947boomer

Stars. I like your assessment of these fires and the overgrowth studies.



posted on Nov, 17 2018 @ 02:30 PM
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I weekly make a drive on one of local freeways. There have been about a dozen small fires started adjacent to the freeway this year.

They range in size from a few acres to a couple of hundred acres.

I live about 75 miles from the big fire in Paradise.

I think that fires start easily this time of the year, especially when it's so dry.




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