Demystifying the “dragon”: how homes really ignite during wildfires

Blog Post created by mikehazell Employee on Jul 18, 2013

Fire triangle forest
As an instructor for NFPA’s seminar “Assessing Wildfire Hazards in the Home Ignition Zone," I know that wildfire is a common event throughout many areas of the United States.

Did you know that wildfire is the easiest natural peril to mitigate? And did you know that wildfire takes place outside of “forested” areas? Many believe that if they live in the city or a suburban area that they have no wildfire risk and their odds are good, but this is a common myth. As an instructor, I am a myth-buster!  Wildfire spreads by a “set of conditions” of fuel types, not only in the forested areas or “mapped” wildfire hazard zones, but also urban and suburban areas. 

Fire behaves according to the laws that guide the combustion process.  Fire spreads as a continual process of combustion.  It is not a moving force that cannot be stopped, as conditions must continue to meet the requirements of combustion for it to continue.  The “dragon,” as some firefighters and the media may call this combustion process, is where gasses from a fuel ignite from an energy source to create a flame.  The fire triangle demonstrates that three items are needed for this chain reaction called “fire” to happen: fuel, heat and oxygen.  Remove any one of the three and the fire will die.  No more Dragon. 

Read the full post by Gary Marshall on NFPA's Fire Break blog.