It seems as though not a summer goes by without there being a major forest fire somewhere in the world. It is perhaps hardly surprising – one of the fastest burning fuels in the world is wood, and in a forest there is a ready supply of kindling for these environmental disasters. Is enough being done to stop this happening?
The causes of forest fires are somewhat varied. It is not uncommon for them to happen by accident – a camp fire lit in the forest is only partially extinguished and continues to smoulder, a discarded cigarette is not fully stubbed out and with the dried leaves lining the forest floor, it is all too easy to see what will happen next.
There are other occasions when a forest fire can be caused by extreme heat and drought. The fiercer the heat, the drier the ground will become. In such circumstances all that is necessary is for something flammable to reach flashpoint and there is another environmental disaster. It is for this reason that it is important to remove all rubbish and avoid leaving things around that may be combustible.
Then there are the forest fires caused by deliberate arson. It is hard to understand the motivation of people who deliberately start forest fires but, given the environmental and frequently directly fatal consequences of their actions, the actions of these people are disturbing and inexcusable. Recent forest fires in Australia and in the USA have been blamed on arson – and in many cases these fires have caused fatality in humans as well as animals.