Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wildfires move fast!

I've been rather too close for comfort to wildfires in South Africa. I've not yet encountered them at halitosis range in the USA, but I daresay it's only a matter of time until I do. The video clip below shows how very fast they can move, given the right conditions (enough fuel, enough wind, and nothing and no-one to slow them down).

You may be tempted to think that the video has been speeded up, to show the fire moving faster than it does in reality. I can assure you, it isn't! Wildfires really can move that fast, given the right conditions. That's how some firefighters die almost every year . . . they're trapped by a fast-moving wildfire that cuts off their line of retreat, then burns right over them. It's a pretty horrible way to die.

Spare a thought - and a prayer - for those battling the current wildfires in Texas and other states, that they may be preserved in safety.



Arthur B. Burnett said...

Greetings from Texas,
Baxter Black is known for funny stories and poems, but he tells one that isn't. Range Fire.

According to Mr. Black, when the Yellow Stone burned in the 1980's at least one of the fires was clocked at about forty miles and hour because of the wind.

I have heard the folks who got away from it were the one's who grabbed their car keys and kids and went. If you stayed to pack a bag you burned.

Anonymous said...

Up in the Texas panhandle flames have been clocked at almost 60 mph, driven by 70+mph winds. That's part of what caused the fatalities in the March 2006 wildfires - people couldn't outrun the flames. Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the wind could pick up cow chips that had dried out and turned them into flaming Frisbees (R), sailing them over the firebreaks and fire lines.


Matthew said...

That made me think of Norman Maclean's "Young Men and Fire" and his son's book about the Storm King Mountain fire several decades later.

Flat ground with wind or trying to outrace flames burning up a hill.

Terrifying thought.