BA logoConnecting science with people
Fire starter
Forest fire
Despite its many benefits, fire is also a very real and potent threat. Although it can be man-made and controlled, it can also happen due to natural causes. When fires start naturally in places such as forests or prairies they can spread extremely quickly, often causing a great deal of damage – to life and to property. Some Australian wildfires have been known to engulf areas as big as 400 football pitches in half an hour.

Have you ever wondered how forest fires start? And why they are so hard to control?

You might like to …

• carry out some research into forest fires; find out how often they occur, and where they occur (see if you can see any similarities in the places); find out about different types of forest fire (for example, ground fires, surface fires and crown fires)
• carry out controlled tests on different types of plants found in woods and forest; find out which ones burn most easily, which ones burn for the longest, which spread most quickly, which produce the most smoke etc.
• carry out tests to see if certain plants burn more easily when they’re dead than when they’re alive
• find out how forest fires are started; see if there are ways of preventing fires that start naturally (in other words, not ones that have been started by arsonists)
• investigate the ways used to extinguish forest fires; design a method to help prevent forest fires.

Further links: