Wildfire tribune: Society asks and our PCF Members answer
In this second article you asked us, among other questions, the reason why we have more and more fires, if the Pyrenees can burn or if forest fires only occur in the forest and do not reach the cities. Let's see how our community of PCF Members have responded
Your questions have been answered by the following PCF Members:
- BD: Beatriz Del Blanco Estaban (Forest Technical Engineer)
- FM: Fernando Martín Correa (Forest Engineer)
- RV: Rodolfo Valdivia (Volunteer Firefighter, Livestock Technician)
- LG: Luis Miguel González (Forest Firefighter)
1.- Why are there more and more forest fires?
Anonymous Due to climate change, the accumulation of biomass and the increase in areas of urban forest interface
BD It is a mix between the abandonment of the rural world in favor of a more urban life. The lack of forest management focused on fire prevention (now more focused on extinction) and a series of years with periods of drought and abnormal increase in temperatures. All this coupled with decades of "zero fire" policy. As a result, the amount of plant mass available for burning has increased considerably.
RV One of the reasons is the abandonment of agricultural areas, allowing plants and weeds to grow uncontrollably with the seasonal rains, which leads to them drying out during the months without rains, to this we add that many times people irresponsibly They use fire carrying out social actions (roasts, camping) or with not so good intentions. There are also fires that have grown more than normal, suggesting that there are more and they are the same but of greater magnitude.
LG Product of climate change, high temperatures, prolonged droughts, abandonment of fields, there are more and more people in areas of interface living, which often if they do not intervene are a powder keg, and finally the lack of human consciousness with the planet, their irresponsibility is causing many fires.
2.- Can cities catch fire? Has it already happened?
Anonymous Yes, in Australia and in the United States
BD Of course they can catch fire. All the vegetation that surrounds cities such as peri-urban parks can affect cities, as happened in 2019 in the city of Toledo, which had never faced this situation. The city of Santiago de Compostela was also threatened by the fires that affected its surroundings. In several countries of the world they have come to affect populations, some of them, made up of wooden houses, have completely burned.
RV Yes, they can catch fire, examples like those of Greece, California or Chile are a clear example of this
LG Yes, especially if, as happened in Santa Olga- Chile 2017, a fire storm, the turkeys reached long distances falling on roofs and the fuels began to burn, leaving more than 5000 victims. It has also happened twice in Valparaiso.
3.- Can the forests of the Pyrenees burn? And the Black Forest? and if so, when will it happen?
Anonymous Yes, of course they can burn, when the conditions are right. We would have to worry
BD Of course they can burn, the type of fire we will decide with the management of these spaces. We should worry and take care to know what type of management is being carried out, since if the dynamics of the fires are not taken into account, we may be walking towards a catastrophic fire.
LG. Catastrophic fire can occur anywhere, both are of utmost importance, there is a lot of fauna, animals, large numbers of plants in danger of extinction, it is necessary to worry about these beauties, since they also bring balance to the environment.
4.- Is there a Common Forest Fire Emergency Plan?
BD Within the national civil protection system there is the State Plan for forest fire emergencies. In addition, each autonomous community has its own forest fire emergency plan.
5.- How could the micro-scale situation in Spain be defined? Lack of awareness in the owners?
Anonymous Climate change, forest abandonment, biomass accumulation, inretface areas.
LG There is a lot of lack of self-care, people are not aware of the real damage caused by forest fires.
6.-What are the tree species that are easier to start a fire and which are the ones that can slow it down the most?
Anonymous In Spain, they are the pines or eucalyptus. The least leafy are holm oaks or oaks.
RV All species end up burning. The important thing is to keep them "green and healthy" so that they delay the arrival and passage of fire, in addition to management plans for these.
LG Most fires start at ground level and fine fuel is the first to catch fire. Pine is generally very resinous. The delay will depend on the moisture content and its discontinuity.
7.- Is there a national coordination of fire response or is it the responsibility of each community?
Anonymous It is a competition of each community
BD The response to fires is the responsibility of each community, which means that there are great differences in the operations, both in the way of working and in the characteristics of the work units. In addition, there are national media that are distributed throughout the territory, and county councils and municipalities, including commonwealths, also have or may have their own media. Coordination is essential.
LG Generally it is from each community a region how they coordinate the emergency.
8.-How long does it take, approximately, for a small “controllable” fire to become a large catastrophic fire?
Anonymous Depends on the location, weather, type of vegetation, stress of vegetation
LG With the current fire behavior, no more than 30 minutes should pass.
9.-Is it true that you shouldn't throw water on the fire at once?
BD Totally related, territory management is essential to manage fires. The greater the local consumption of food products or materials (such as clothing, furniture, etc.), the greater the number of people who will be able to settle and live in rural areas. This population will contribute to the management of the territory and therefore of the fires.
Anonymous Depends on the types of fire
LG True, the water has a weight a cube of 10 centimeters on a side contains a liter of water and weighs a kilo, this launched jet of water. water can spread and spread the fire, displacing the burning fathoms increasing the spread of the fire.
10.-What can we do the population so that the forests do not burn in the way it is burning?
JD Investigate the cause and decrease biomass.
BD Most of the fires are caused by human activity. Therefore, prevention must be taken, along with the management of the territory, they are a maxim to avoid both the start and the spread of fire. A very effective way of contributing to such management is the local consumption of food products or materials (such as clothing, furniture, etc.), in this way the population can settle down and stay in rural areas. The more rural population there is, the more land management there will be.
BD There are several things that the population can do directly or indirectly. You can follow the state alerts about periods of maximum risk of fire, and not carry out activities in them that can cause fires, such as working with machines and tools that generate sparks or the use of bush fire in burns or barbecues. They can also alert when they see a smoke indicating its precise location, as well as keeping your home the best protected against a fire.
RV Supporting state measures that enhance prevention, generate spaces for new techniques that avoid fire to eliminate stubble, seek to generate healthy forests through studies of how to maintain them and make them grow, raise awareness that climate change will hit us even harder if not take action now
LG Be more aware, help, not make fires, help raise awareness, teach your children to learn about the importance of the forest for humanity, clean their surroundings, not litter, in an interface area, work on defensible spaces.