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Winter and Wildfires

Winter and Wildfires


During the cold, winter nights, fire risks are probably the last thing on most people’s minds. The only fire most of us are thinking about is the one in the fireplace that we can’t wait to get home to for warmth. Yet despite the cold, some readers may be surprised to learn that the cold, dry winter can actually increase the risk of wildfires. By understanding the cause of wildfires and their negative effects, we can be better prepared for them. Here we’ll define wildfires, explore what creates them, and why we are particularly vulnerable to them during dry climates. 

What Are Wildfires?

Wildfires are produced when a flame comes into contact with a heavily wooded area. Not only are trees and plants made of wood, with wood being fuel for fires since time immemorial, they breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. As any good boy scout knows, the three ingredients that a fire needs are fuel, heat, and oxygen. Once the element of heat is introduced to the equation, the wooded forest provides the fuel for the fire, and with such an abundance of fuel so readily available, wooded areas give a wildfire the opportunity to spread rapidly.

These risks are usually mitigated during the winter months though because of the moisture from snow, ice, and frost. However, if there is no wintry mix, winter can be extremely dry.

It’s a Dry, Dry Time of Year.

Many of us associate winter with snow, ice, and frost. We’ve been conditioned to make these associations by Christmas cards, movies, and TV shows, but residents of geographically southern areas of the United States will no doubt see that the winter outside their windows does not reflect those greetings card images.

While we may feel the cold, we don’t see an awful lot of white in the landscape. We see no snow, ice, or frost. This is because snow is also influenced by humidity levels. Dry air is generally defined as air with less than 45% humidity. Dry air is incredibly common during the winter months because the air is much colder. Cold air can’t retain as much moisture as warm air, so this lack of humidity leads to a dry air environment.

This very dryness can exacerbate our risk of wildfires. With less moisture in the air, the cold, dry air can cause humidity levels to plummet. This results in wooded areas drying out at a much faster rate, making them prime kindling for wildfires.

How ServiceMaster Fire & Water Restoration Could Help.

The good news is that even if disaster should strike, ServiceMaster Fire & Water Restoration can render a range of services to help. From disaster and fire damage restoration, to trauma cleanup, and even carpet cleaning, we offer a wide range of services that help those affected by natural disasters. With a presence in both Florence and Lexington, we’re ideally placed to serve the people of South Carolina.

Get in touch today if you’d like to know more!

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