Affecting the spread of a fire by lighting more fire

This video showcases how firefighters in Kootenay National Park in British Columbia helped to prevent a fire from crossing a natural barrier by lighting more fire. The additional heat created convection and indrafts that allowed firefighters to affect the spread of the fire, resulting in them being able to protect structures and a highway. 

The video was created by Fire Information personnel working for Parks Canada, using a series of still images shot by Jon Large, who told us he “had a great viewpoint on the adjacent mountain!”

Thanks Jon, and Parks Canada.

Below is a description of the video from YouTube.

Using fire to fight fire may seem counter-intuitive, but a deliberately lit fire can be a very important tool in a firefighter’s toolkit. During the Numa Creek Wildfire in 2013, specialists burned away fuel in the wildfire’s path to slow its progress. They used a natural fire break and convective air currents to control the deliberately set fire and protect both the highway and structures below. Fire specialists rely on a thorough understanding of fire behaviour to successfully manage fires of all kinds. Where we see flames and smoke, fire specialists see prevailing winds, convective heat, in-drafts and more. This is what fire specialists saw during one operation on the Numa Creek Wildfire of 2013.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.