Wildfires can originate from a dropped match, cigarette embers, campfires, exhaust sparks from a train, or arson.
Many wildland fires are ignited by lightning.
There are no official rules, but the first responders usually name a fire after a meadow, creek, city, or type of plant they see.
Wind, temperature, and humidity all influence wildfires. Strong winds push flames toward new fuel sources. Wind can pick up and transfer burning embers and sparks, starting "spot fires."
During the day, sunlight heats the ground and warm air rises, allowing hot air currents to travel up sloped landscapes. At night, the ground cools and air currents travel down the slopes.
Humidity dampens fuel, slowing the spread of flames. Humidity is greater at night, so fires usually burn less intensely then.
Large fires can create their own winds and weather, increasing their flow of oxygen.
A really large fire can generate hurricane-force winds,
up to 120 mph. The high temperatures preheat fuels in the fire's path, preparing them to burn more readily.
Timeline of Firefighter Fatalities Associated With Wildland Fires (selected):
June 26, 1990 -
Six firefighters (including four volunteers on a prison work crew) are killed in the Dude Fire
in Tonto National Forest, northeast of Phoenix.
July 6, 1994 - Fourteen firefighters die
in a wildfire at Storm King Mountain
in the South Canyon Fire
near Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
July 10, 2001 -
Four firefighters die while taking shelter from the Thirtymile Fire
north of Winthrop, Washington.
June 21, 2002 - Five firefighters die
when the van they are riding in overturns
not far from Parachute, Colorado, on the way to the Hayman Wildfire, southwest of Denver.
August 24, 2003 -
Eight firefighters die when the van they are riding in crashes with a tractor-trailer west of Vale, Oregon. They were returning from fighting a wildfire in Boise National Forest, Idaho.
October 26, 2006 -
Five firefighters die in an arson related wildfire in the San Jacinto Mountains,
near Palm Springs, California.
August 5, 2008 - Seven firefighters are killed
in a helicopter accident soon after taking off from the Buckhorn wildfire near Shasta Trinity National Forest, Northern California. [Three more died that month, but in other fires.]
June 30, 2013 - Nineteen firefighters are killed
while fighting the Yarnell Hill wildfire,
northwest of Phoenix.
August 19, 2015 -
Three firefighters die while fighting a wildfire near Twisp, Washington.
Firefighter Wildland Fatalities:(U.S Fire Administration) 2001:
U.S. Fire Season Summary:(National Interagency Fire Center)2000Fires:
92,250 Acres Burned:
84,079 Acres Burned:
73,457 Acres Burned:
63,629 Acres Burned:
65,461 Acres Burned:
* 2004 fires and acres do not include state lands for North Carolina2005Fires:
66,753 Acres Burned:
96,385 Acres Burned:
85,705 Acres Burned:
78,979 Acres Burned:
78,792 Acres Burned:
71,971 Acres Burned:
74,126 Acres Burned:
67,774 Acres Burned:
47,579 Acres Burned
63,312 Acres Burned:
68,151 Acres Burned:
October 1918 - Cloquet, Minnesota: $35 million in 1918 dollars.
June 1990 - Santa Barbara, California: $273 million loss in 1990 dollars.
October 1991 - Oakland, California: $1.5 billion loss in 1991 dollars.
October 1993 - Orange County, California: $528 million loss in 1993 dollars.
May-June 1998 - Florida: $395 million loss in 1998 dollars.
May 2000 - Los Alamos, New Mexico: $1 billion loss in 2000 dollars.
October 2003 - Julian, California: $1.1 billion loss in 2003 dollars; and San Bernardino, California: $975 million in 2003 dollars.
October 2007 - San Diego County, California: $1.8 billion in 2007 dollars.
November 2008 - Sacramento, California: $800 million loss in 2008 dollars.