By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Associated Press
SPOKANE, Wash (AP) – Thousands of wildfires burn in the United States each year, and each firefighter is often required to make quick decisions in difficult situations such as hurricanes and lightning.
Workers and managers should decide when to bring in aircraft, what time of day it is to fight the flames, evacuate residents, and even if some fires are completely extinguished.
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In the western part of the country, where many fires are raging, all of this is exacerbated by prolonged droughts and other climate change. Other challenges include a century-long wildfires and deforestation, experts say, and communities housed in fire-prone areas.
Rus Lane, director of wildfires for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, explains how some key fire decisions are made.
Why do firefighters burn some wild animals?
Sometimes fires in the desert or in a national park serve as an important land management goal.
Fire is part of the natural forest cycle, and Len, who worked as a firefighter during the 35th season, produced most of it in Western Oregon. A.D. He joined the Washington Natural Resources Agency in 2019.
Wildfires also sometimes occur in areas where firefighters are not available.
When do firefighters deploy the flight?
If wildfires or helicopters are used in wildfires, Len said, they are the best way to send ground forces or to deliver or delay aircraft.
“You want it to burn quickly, so it stays small,” Lane said.
The goal is to keep them out of the fire. In the case of fire, the California Fire Department covers an average of 95% of fires up to 10 acres (4 acres) or less.
Lane said, however, that airplanes alone are often not enough to put out fires. He takes his shoes off the ground.
Airplanes may also face a number of visual limitations when attempting to drown in a wildfire.
How has technology helped?
When it comes to early detection, one invention replaces remote-controlled fire towers with remote cameras, many of which are equipped with high-quality and artificial intelligence to detect morning smoke. There are 800 such cameras scattered throughout California, Nevada, and Oregon.
Firefighters also regularly call in military drones to set fire to the fire at night, using thermal imagery to control their borders and hot spots. You can use satellite imagery to plan for smoke and ash.
What is the best time of day to attack a flame?
In general, summer heat is not the best time to fight wildfires.
“We are very successful in the morning, in the evening, or in the evening,” says Lane.
Are wild animals difficult to fight in the forest or in the pasture?
Dry lightning puts dozens of fires on the ground, Lane said, and the weather is the main reason.
Wildfires in the plains are growing rapidly, and are more vulnerable to spreading when there are high winds, Len said. Fires in wood forests do not grow rapidly, but they are more difficult to extinguish.
“Grass, a little rain and coming out,” said Lane.
How to save homes when fires are approaching?
Lane said the building materials used in a house and the nearby plants are a big reason to decide if a house can survive a fire.
Houses with wooden roofs and many flammable plants are very difficult to save. Firefighters often spray water around a house to protect firefighters.
Sometimes they burn the plants around a house to starve the approaching wildfire. Before the big fire, Lane said, if the owner’s brush is well away from the house.
Where do fire names come from?
Fire is usually named the first fire station on site. The name often reflects nearby geographical features, such as streams or valleys.
California’s giant Dixie fire, for example, was named after the July 14 fire.
Why do firefighters often turn off digging lines?
“Every fire should have a trail of garbage around it,” says Lane. “That is the separation of fuel from fire.”
Firefighters can also help when the flame burns to a river, rocky area, or road. “They have stopped separating fuel from fire,” he said.
Who is leading the special firefighting effort?
Wildfires have one of five levels, type 5 is the most dangerous and type 1 is the most dangerous. More than 95% of fires are minor, type 4 or 5 wildfires and are quickly extinguished by local firefighters.
According to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, major fire hazards will be assigned to disaster management, said agency spokeswoman Janet Pears.
The commander creates a collection of items, which directs the command and the general staff. The Operations Officer then develops a firefighting strategy.
When do you order residents to leave immediately?
When emergency managers decide to order people to evacuate, they take into account the nature of the fire, the forecast weather, and the time it will take to evacuate, Len said.
They also take into account the existence of shelters and the potential for harm or loss of life.
Occasionally there is a “shelter” in the area. He said that this is usually done if there is no time to escape the fire or it is more dangerous to leave.