WILDFIRE (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     10th February 2024        
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Context: At least 131 people have died in the wildfire that ravaged Chile in February 2024, according to the National Disaster Prevention and Response Service (SENAPRED), the National Disaster Prevention and Response Service, Chile.


  • About: Wildfires, also known as bushfires, brush fires, or forest fires, are expansive, uncontrollable, and potentially devastating fires that can impact both rural and urban areas.
  • Spread and Unpredictability: These fires have the ability to spread rapidly, change direction unexpectedly, and can even "jump" across large distances as embers and sparks are carried by the wind.
  • Causes: Wildfires can be triggered by a variety of natural causes, such as lightning, or by human activities, including carelessness like the improper disposal of items like discarded cigarettes.
  • Factors: The extent of a wildfire's spread is influenced by the arrangement of the landscape, the availability of fuel (such as vegetation or dead wood), and prevailing weather conditions, including wind and heat.
  • Rapid Onset and Intensity: Wildfires can initiate within seconds, transforming into intense infernos within a matter of minutes, making them highly unpredictable and dangerous.
  • Naturally Occurring Wildfires: They are most frequently caused by lightning. There are also volcanic, meteor, and coal-seam fires, depending on the circumstances. 
  • Human Caused Wildfires: It can be accidental, intentional (arson), or from an act of negligence.

The Recent Forest Fires (2022-2023)

  • Wildfires in Hawaii (Lahaina)
  • USA: Northern California
  • Canada: British Columbia and Alberta province
  • Russia: Black Sea town of Gelendzhik
  • Spain: Tenerife, Canary Islands and La Palma
  • Greece: Plataniostos in Evia Island; city of Alexandroupolis, Evros region
  • India: Fires in Simlipal National Park (Odisha), Goa
  • South Central Chile: Ñuble, Maule, Biobío and Auracanía.