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Name:  Danika B.
Status: student
Age: 17
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 11/6/2004

What is the difference between a controlled fire and an uncontrolled wildfire?


Firefighters and land management groups will have "controlled burns" also known as a controlled fire. The point of these is just to "install" firebreak lines between various sections of forest land. Picture any given plot of forest land that DID NOT have any sort of openings of trees. Quite a fire hazard, huh? I'm fairly certain that the firefighters start these controlled fires such that they will provide a natural fire break line in the event that there was a real UNCONTROLLED fire. If you separate the tree groupings from one another, you are able to at least minimize the amount of forest destruction by burning in these fire breaks. Unfortunately, there have been a number of times where these so called controlled fires end up being an uncontrolled fire.

Good question.


A controlled fire is exactly what the term suggests, a fire that we ourselves set under controlled conditions, whereas an uncontrolled wildfire is a fire that started through some natural occurrence or some improper human activity (cigarette butts, bad camp fires, etc).

As to why the Forest Service choose to take a policy of controlled fires - the short answer is that if we prevent all fires in our forests, the trees that manage to grow are small and weak, and there is a tendency to develop brush - which ultimately is dangerous when it does inevitably catch fire. By controlling and selectively burning such bushes and small trees, we allow for the growth of stronger, bigger trees, remove potentially dangerous undergrowth and end-up with a healthier forest.

Greg (Roberto Gregorius)

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