Login / My Account
Liar, Liar, House on Fire! The Relationship Between Trees, Wildland Fire, and Damage to Homes
* Note: All editions of the Natural Inquirer starting with Volume 5 and including future editions require the newest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader 6.0 in order to be downloaded. We have upgraded in order to ensure greater accessibility to PDF files. Please click on the following link if you need to upgrade your Adobe Acrobat reader: Upgrade now to Adobe Reader 6.0. It is a free upgrade.
When lightning or other forms of ignition start a fire in a forest, there is a chance of a wildfire. Wildfires may be started by a natural cause, such as lightning, or they may be started accidently by human activities or on purpose by an ill-meaning person. When houses are built close to trees, the trees provide the fuel that wildfires need to spread. The question the scientist wanted to answer was: How close must flames come to a house’s outside wooden walls before those walls catch fire?
Meet the scientists that contributed to this article:
"Science Topics" covered in this article:
"Environmental Topics" covered in this article:
Regions covered in this article:
"Thinking About Science Themes" covered in this article:
Scientists are like detectives because they solve mysteries. Like detectives, scientists sometimes follow many different clues and determine if all of the clues lead them to the same conclusion. When a detective follows a clue, he or she plans in advance how that clue will befollowed. Scientists also develop plans to solve problems. Their plans are called methods. In this study, the scientist used three methods to find out under which conditions houses might catch fire from forest wildfires. Then the scientist compared the methods to see if all three of the methods (or clues) led him to the same conclusion. Can you think of a time when you do the same thing? Think about the latest movie hit. To determine if the movie is good, you might ask your friends if they liked the movie (clue #1); you might read about the movie in a magazine, newspaper, or on the Web (clue #2); and you might see the movie yourself (clue #3). When you do this, you are like a scientist!
Specific "Thinking About Science" Themes:"Thinking About Environmental Themes" covered in this article:
Sometimes things happen in the environment that people call natural disasters. A natural disaster is a natural disturbance that people judge to be harmful. When injury or harm does not occur, these natural events are recognized as normal environmental events that happen at a large scale. Examples include floods, avalanches, and wildfires. Wildfires are different than floods and avalanches in one important way. Floods and avalanches consist of a mass, such as water or snow, which moves and completely covers everything in its path. Fire does not move in this way. Fire spreads from the continual ignition and burning of fuel. For a fire to spread, it must have fuel, heat, and oxygen. If any one of these three is not present in a great enough amount, a fire cannot spread. Scientists call this the fire triangle.
Specific "Thinking About the Environment" Themes:NSE Standards covered in this article:
Science Benchmarks covered in this article: