Grant Barrett gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG
Mon Jun 17 16:13:57 UTC 2002

Perhaps I am over-thinking this (very likely), but I discern a difference
between wildfire and "forest fire." Now, I'm not sure if this springs from
my Missouri background or my years in New York City, or a combination or
intersection of both but the differences are 1) urgency, 2) location and 3)

In my lexicon, a wildfire is an uncontrolled fire in nature, whether started
by humans or not, accidentally or on purpose, including a fire intended to
be controlled, such as an autumn burn-off or trash incineration, which gets
out of hand. A wildfire burns many types of countryside besides forests:
fields, brush, crops, ditches, etc. There is a sense of crisis and danger
with a wildfire. ("Brush fire" and "ditch fire" come to mind as related
terms, but they seem to be merely descriptive of what's burning).

A forest fire is a fire in the woods. This can include controlled and other
non-urgent fires, as long as they are among the trees. There may or not be a
sense of urgency: fires after lightning strikes, at least where I come from
in Southeast Missouri, can burn a few trees down and smolder for days but
not harm much else. While not technically a controlled fire, it has the same
non-catastrophic results and lack of crisis.

Regarding controlled fires in the woods: Yes, landowners do it. It's rather
stupid of them, but then people also still tend to believe in the value of
the autumn field burn-offs which in my thinking ought to have been abandoned
at the time of the Jefferson administration. They light controlled fires in
the woods to clear out underbrush, but a better way is to fence the area in
and let a few hogs loose. They'll clean out everything at mouth-level in no
time, including poison ivy. Then you can get in there with machinery and
haul out the big limbs and logs.

Grant Barrett

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