Yes—in fact, huge wildfires happen all the time. On August 17, 2013, a hunter made a campfire. He just wanted to heat up some soup. But he accidentally started the third-largest wildfire in California’s history. The wind carried sparks from the hunter’s campfire into the woods. Soon, a wildfire was burning out of control. It spread with terrifying speed. For a while, it doubled in size every day. The blaze became known as the Rim Fire. It raged for two months. Thousands of firefighters worked to stop it. When they finally did, 400 square miles of forest had burned. That’s an area larger than Dallas, Texas. Wildfires Getting Worse Wildfires have always been common in the western U.S. In recent years, they have been getting bigger and harder to control. That’s partly because the weather has been hotter and drier than in the past. Forest plants have dried out. That makes the plants burn very easily. “The average fire is three times larger than it was in the 1980s,” says Jason Ramos, a wilderness firefighter. Fighting the Flames The Rim Fire started in a remote area.Fighting such a fire can be a big challenge. Firefighters often use planes to reach the fire. They dump huge loads of water from these planes. Sometimes that is not enough to stop a wildfire, so firefighters like Ramos parachute down. After they parachute to the ground, these firefighters use shovels and axes to remove plants. They create a line of bare soil near the edge of the fire. When the fire reaches this line, there is nothing to burn. The fire stops spreading. In the past, people often died in wildfires. Today, wildfires are rarely deadly. Early warnings help people get to safety before it’s too late. Even though the Rim Fire destroyed 11 homes and caused millions of dollars in damage, no one was killed. You’ve just read “Could a Monster Wildfire Happen Today?” How did it go? Take the quiz below to find out! You can always go back to the article to find the answers. WHAT TO DO: Fill in the bubble next to the best answer for each question. What is the main idea of the article? That is, what is the main point? A Wildfires rarely happen in the western U.S. B Wildfires are a problem in the western U.S. C The Rim Fire did not do much damage. D Bare soil can’t burn. Wildfires can be hard to reach. How do firefighters solve this problem? A They fly to the fire in a plane and parachute to the ground. B They ride on horses to get to the fire. C They bring shovels with them. D They use axes and shovels to clear the ground of plants. How are wilderness fires brought under control? A Firefighters clear the ground of plants to make a line of bare soil. B Firefighters warn people to get to safety. C Planes dump water onto the burning forest. D Both A and C CHALLENGE Paired-Text Question Why does bare soil stop a wildfire from spreading? How did bare soil help John and Mike Kramer survive the Great Peshtigo Fire of 1871? (If you don’t remember, look back at the article “The Blood-Red Night,” on pages 4-9.)
Published by Scholastic. View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://browndigital.bpc.com/article/Could+A+Monster+Wildfire+Happen+Today%3F/2058387/265609/article.html.