Wildfires (or bushfires in Australia or forest fire in Southeast Asia) are fires that are burning vegetation freely in the wild in an uncontrollable manner raging across the landscape. To have a fire, the triangle of fire needs to be perfectly met which are heat, fuel and oxygen, without one, a fire will never be created.
Fires are essential tool for tree regeneration in deciduous forest and usually occur annually during the dry season. There can be natural causes such as lighting strike. In case of Thailand or tropical zone, lighting occurs during thunderstorm (wet lighting), so such fire does not spread from where it occurred. Unfortunately, the major causes of forest fires are related to human driven activities of those who live in the rural areas not the natural e.g. gathering of forest non-timber products, agricultural debris burning, incendiary fire starting, hunting, political conflicts, land encroachment and carelessness.
The Fire behavior, spreading rate, how fire spreads, intensity of fire are very important to truly understand in order to have efficient fire control operation. The main factors determine how fast wildfires can travel and spread are fuel availability, fuel dryness, fuel type, fuel structure, the weather conditions, and the topographic (terrain) conditions. Fire weather is also therefore very important information to understand and predict fire behavior. Spot fires can sometimes travel further away by wind over fire lines a few kilometers downwind. Fires can also kill people by radiant heat, dehydration, and asphyxiation.
Smog and haze from wildfires create a lot of problems to humans’ ways of living and health. The smog and haze transboundary issue is indeed an international pollution issue. Smog and haze can travel across countries border and nothing can stop it; therefore, it is an international effort in order to solve the problem together. The latest example is a smoke and haze created by peat fires at Sumatra in mid-September until early October 2019.
From derived and empirical records, it is possible for humans within certain limits to avoid future natural catastrophes, in particularly, wildfires, from severe damages and loss of lives, with a proper use of tools and advanced technologies. Wildfires, whose threatening potential of great danger and devastation, ironically, remain one of the most significant and natural causes of terrestrial biomass change.
Veerachai Tanpipat, Forest Fire Management Technical Advisor to DG of Royal Forest Department