In North Carolina, wildfire season starts in February and goes through May. During this time there is an increased risk of a wildfire starting due to windy and dry weather that we generally experience in Spring. Wildfires can have both positive and negative effects on the environment so make sure to read this full blog to learn some more about some of these effects.
Air and Water Quality
Wildfires can have major effects on both water and air quality. Smoke from wildfires can travel many miles and can have adverse effects on humans with and without pre-existing conditions. Additionally, smoke from wildfires generally contains carbon monoxide which is toxic to humans if one is exposed to too much for too long.
Bodies of water are also affected by wildfires more than one may think. When wildfires burn plants that are on the ground it makes it so when it rains there is much more stormwater runoff into surrounding bodies of water. This increased flow of water can pick up debris that was created as a result of the fire and move it into bodies of water. Once this material breaks down it releases compounds that spike the amount of nutrients in the water. Now this may sound good, but this increase in nutrients can promote the growth of algae which ultimately can deplete the level of oxygen in the body of water and can kill many different types of wildlife that inhabit that water.
Wildfires have been around for centuries and ecosystems have factored them in while they evolved. According to National Geographic, when wildfires do occur animal casualties are relatively low due to many animals knowing how to properly respond to survive these fires. Fires can also help to clear out dead trees and other things to make room and provide nutrients for new growth in an ecosystem. With that being said, it is very easy for these fires to get out of control and end up harming wildlife that is still living as well.
Human Influence on Wildfires
Many wildfires today are actually started by humans. Having a campfire or smoking a cigarette in the woods may not seem like too big of a deal, but if conditions are just right it could cause millions of dollars’ worth of damage by starting a major wildfire. This is why it is so important to be aware of red flag warnings and general weather conditions, especially when starting a fire as it can quickly escalate unexpectedly. Another big contributor to wildfires is people who commit arson. They may be doing this with the intention of starting a wildfire, to destroy someone else’s property, or for many other reasons. With that being said, many sources show that 20% or more of wildfires that occur are due to arson. This does not mean that one should never light a fire, but instead just remember to be careful and attentive at all times as things can get out of hand quickly!
As it is wildfire season in North Carolina it is important to remember to be careful if you plan on doing any activities that involve or may involve a fire! Additionally, it is always important to stay informed about current events so if you are planning a camping trip, to burn leaves, or any other activity possibly involving fire be sure to do some quick research to learn about current fire conditions in your area! We hope that you enjoyed learning a bit more about the ups and the downs of wildfire’s impact on the environment!