Wildfires and bushfires

The necessary ingredients to maintain a fire are given in a fire triangle concept; this concept portrays a triangle with each side sequentially labelled fuel, oxygen and heat, tte absence of fuel, oxygen or the heat produced causes the fire to burn out. Fire-fighting methods are based on breaking the triangle by cooling the heat component, smothering the oxygen or removing fuel, tte fuel component of the fire triangle merits consideration because it lends itself to modification at all times of the year. Oxygen is always available but its supply is enhanced by certain stability and wind situations; the source of heat is generally an imposed factor, say by lightning, and does not lend itself to overall control (WMO 1993 and 2007).

tte climate of a region determines the type, amount, distribution and state of fuel available for the outbreak of fires. Fuels are found in almost infinite combinations. Every fuel has an inherent flammability potential which can generally be realized, mainly depending upon the amount of water in the fuel. In the tropics, most fires are used by humans as an important tool in land management. In the sub-tropics, lightning is one of the main causes of fire outbreaks, whilst in the tropics fires started from lightning are rare (WMO 1993 and 2007). From the mitigation point of view, it are the amounts and distribution of the most flammable fuels around that could be influenced most. However, in practice this is not possible on a large scale and therefore the only mitigation applied is related to minimizing and where necessary managing the imposed sources of fires. Fire fighting itself as a form of mitigation needs a lot of knowledge of which the agrometeorological aspects have recently again been reviewed (WMO 2007).

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