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Physical vulnerabilities from wildfires: Flames, floods, and debris flows

Author(s): Daniel G. Neary, Jackson M. Leonard
Year Published: 2019

Humans live in or adjacent to wildland ecosystems that burn periodically and are part of nearly all ecosystems that are in the pyrosphere. There are many hazards posed by wildfire and certain consequences of living in these ecosystems. Most are associated with wildfire, but the increased use of prescribed fire is an issue because of associated risks with human attempts to manage ecological goals. The hazards posed by wildfire involve cultural and economic loss, social disruption, infrastructure damage, human injury and mortality, damage to natural resources, and deterioration in air quality. The economic and human health and safety costs are on the rise due to increasing wildland-urban interface problems and extreme wildfire behavior brought on by climate change. In the past, urban fires have been the greatest threat to human health and safety killing over 100,000 people. World ecosystems have been modified extensively by fire. We live on a “fire planet.” With larger human populations and a changing, drying climate, the impact of fire on humans and the hazards faced by our natural and developed world will continue to increase. The increase in wildfire hazards in the twenty-first century will require higher levels of training, increased investments in wildfire personnel and infrastructure, greater wildfire awareness, and improved planning to reduce fire impacts.

Citation: Neary, Daniel G.; Leonard, Jackson M. 2019. Physical vulnerabilities from wildfires: Flames, floods, and debris flows. In: Naser, Humood, ed. Human Impact on the Environment. London, England: IntechOpen Limited. 17 p.
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Soils, Water, Post-fire Management, Post-fire Rehabilitation, Erosion Control
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
Hot Topic(s): Post-fire Debris Flows
NRFSN number: 19841
Record updated: Jul 22, 2019