Peat fires are raging, uncontrolled and rapidly spreading huge flames intensified by firebrands and wind action that completely eliminates forests and vegetation within minutes. They are also known as woodland fires, bush fires, vegetation fires or grass fire.
They are extreme and wildly burn at temperatures above 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than the surface of Venus. The flames are so violent going beyond 50 meters high, spreads widely and fast twice how the average human being can run. Hence, it is significantly difficult to control and suppress them. They have been substantiated in such countries as Indonesia, South East Asia, Germany, China, Greece, Portugal, Russia, Malaysia etc.
The U.S Fire services estimate that over 700 peat fires befall annually burning over 6 million acres of land and a massive destruction of over 26, 000 structures. However, the local and central organization have joined their forces in an attempt to control thousands of peat fires. Moreover, The U.S government spend billions of dollars to eradicate these fire every years.
What are The Causes of peat fires?
Over 90 percent of peat fires are caused by human acts of negligence. The following are the most common human factors known to cause peat fires:
- Smoking: Improper extinguishing of cigarettes butts before discarding them and carelessly throwing them into dry leaves and other combustible may lead to widespread peat fires disaster.
- Unattended campfires: Camping is a thrilling ordeal. During such outdoor activities, people may leave combusting materials or lit fires unattended which can ignite peat fires. It’s prudent to extinguish a lit fire before leaving the campsites to avoid peat fire menace.
- Engine sparks or equipment failure: Engine sparks may give rise to rapid fires if it’s operating in the forest or in the field.
- Burning Debris: When trash and other waste materials are burned, the reduced accumulation of garbage. Consequently, debris that burns slowly is left. This debris becomes a potential cause of massive peat fires.
- Agricultural activities: People may deliberately clear and burn forests to pave way for the development of agriculture activities thereby causing peat fires.
- Petrol: Petroleum products used in logging tools may leak on the dry vegetation and cause forest fires.
- Arson: This is deliberate and malicious setting fire on land or forest. Arson is estimated to cause about 30% of all peat fires.
The following are the leading natural causes for peat fires:
- Lightning: This is the major and most destructive cause of peat fires. When a diverse electric voltage of lightning strokes occur, it leads to direct ignition of the vegetation causing incredibly massive fires. Such fires are more recurrent during the dry season and are extremely difficult to suppress because of the rugged
- Volcanic Activities: Lava flow and volcanic eruptions can cause extensive peat fires difficult to extinguish due to associated risks and constant lava flow.
Impacts of Peat Fires.
- High smoke levels may distract normal activities of people living near these forests.
- Increased ash and smoke can trigger serious health implications to infants and the elderly.
- The gas produced by the compounds when the fires occur is irritating and odorous.
- Massive amounts of smoke emitted are a leading cause of air pollution.
- Leads to complete destruction of soils by burning its natural ingredients.
- Leads to loss of human life especially those involved in firefighting.
- Massive loss of jobs and income for those whose animals and crops were affected by the fire
- Peat fires interfere with the crucial habitat of people and endangered species e.g. Orangutans
- It’s the leading cause of global warming due to the massive amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.
How to Control Peat Fires
Peat fires being the largest fires on earth have become extremely hard to eliminate. Eradicating them calls for extensive measures to be taken. Such techniques include:
- Extensive awareness campaigns
It is essential for the public to increase their understanding of various causes of peat fires and effective reaction in the event of a fire break out. Fire safety regulations codes should be availed and publicized.
- Enforcing fines and penalties
Imposing of fines and penalties hinders the willingness of visitors who visit the parks and intend to engage in a hazardous behavior. This includes anyone who violates any regulation or bans through constant reminders.
- Recreation and Parks Integration
Informative pamphlets can be designed and distributed in park workshops and other recreation facilities can help disseminate information touching on peat fire control.
- Always heed to the weather forecast
The weather is the major cause of peat fires, avoid burning any combustible substances during treacherous conditions or when it’s windy.
- Be keen to follow bylaws and local regulations
Follow the rules and regulations regarding what time of the day or year you should burn various substances. Ensure that you only burn the substances that are permitted to be burnt.
- Use of various channels such as Social media networks, newsletters, mailing lists. Many organizations can communicate effectively to their communities through these channels. This will help to spread information and make a huge impact in avoiding peat fires.
- Interaction with other parks, forestry, and various recreation organizations. Peat fires are a global menace thus this interaction can help unveil what has worked in some communities and what has not worked for them.
- Governing bodies can work together with regional experts and develop strategies to aid each locality on fire control and suppression techniques.
- In other instances, use of firefighters can be used to burn some forest vegetation in order to control future incidences of peat fire occurrence through the creation of buffer zones.
Peat fires are notorious occurrences but in the long run, they can be controlled. Ensure you follow the rules and regulations of the area you are in. They are extremely disastrous and hazardous to our lands and entire creatures. Following these rules can save lives, homes and the natural habitat of the creatures.
Humans are the leading cause of peat fires and can be the ideal solution too.