A group of pine trees burn in
Waldo Canyon, Colorado.
It's June 2012, and multiple wildfires are burning across the state of Colorado. Over 300 square miles have burned, and hundreds of buildings have been destroyed.
What helps the fires spread? Hot weather (over 100 degrees F), low humidity (less than 7%) and high winds (over 50 mph).
Also, many of the pine trees in the forest have been killed by pine beetles. Those dry trees are still standing and are an even more potent source of fuel.
Looking at a forest fire from a distance, or hearing statistics about how fast a fire is moving, is not the best way to understand how quickly a fire can spread.
It's deceptively fast.
To get a better idea, take a look at this video showing how quickly a pine tree (in this case a dry Christmas tree inside a room) can burn.
Now imagine a whole forest of them.
Christmas tree fire (Dry Scotch Pine tree fire)
This controlled burn was created and filmed by the U. S. government's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
- Fire on the Web, NIST>>
- National Institute of Standards and Technology>>
- Photos of Colorado Wildfires, The Denver Post>>
- 2012 Colorado wildfires, Wikipedia>>