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A daytime fire engulfing large trees
A wildfire in California on September 5, 2008

A wildfire or wildland fire is an uncontrolled fire in an area of combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside area.<ref name="Cambridge">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> Other names such as brush fire, bush fire, forest fire, desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, peat fire, vegetation fire, and veldfire may be used to describe the same phenomenon depending on the type of vegetation being burned, and the regional variant of English being used. A wildfire differs from other fires by its extensive size, the speed at which it can spread out from its original source, its potential to change direction unexpectedly, and its ability to jump gaps such as roads, rivers and fire breaks.<ref name = NIFC>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Wildfires are characterized in terms of the cause of ignition, their physical properties such as speed of propagation, the combustible material present, and the effect of weather on the fire.<ref name=UToronto />

Bushfires in Australia are a common occurrence; because of the generally hot and dry climate, they pose a great risk to life and infrastructure during all times of the year, though mostly throughout the hotter months of summer and spring.<ref name="bushfire facts">"Bushfires - Get the Facts". Attorney-General's Department (Australia), Retrieved 2013-01-09 .</ref> In the United States, there are typically between 60,000 and 80,000 wildfires that occur each year, burning 3 million to 10 million acres (12,000 to 40,000 square kilometres) of land depending on the year.<ref>{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Full |date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[full citation needed] }}</ref><ref>Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Table of Events</ref> Fossil records and human history contain accounts of wildfires, as wildfires can occur in periodic intervals.<ref name=NOVA>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref name=Krock>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Wildfires can cause extensive damage, both to property and human life, but they also have various beneficial effects on wilderness areas. Some plant species depend on the effects of fire for growth and reproduction,<ref name=NOVA /> although large wildfires may also have negative ecological effects.<ref name=UToronto />

Strategies of wildfire prevention, detection, and suppression have varied over the years, and international wildfire management experts encourage further development of technology and research.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> One of the more controversial techniques is controlled burning: permitting or even igniting smaller fires to minimize the amount of flammable material available for a potential wildfire.<ref name=IS>Interagency Strategy for the Implementation of the Federal Wildland Fire Policy, entire text</ref><ref>National Wildfire Coordinating Group Communicator's Guide For Wildland Fire Management, entire text</ref> While some wildfires burn in remote forested regions, they can cause extensive destruction of homes and other property located in the wildland-urban interface: a zone of transition between developed areas and undeveloped wilderness.<ref name=IS /><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

The name wildfire was once a synonym for Greek fire but now refers to any large or destructive conflagration.<ref name="Cambridge" /> Wildfires differ from other fires in that they take place outdoors in areas of grassland, woodlands, bushland, scrubland, peatland, and other wooded areas that act as a source of fuel, or combustible material. Buildings may become involved if a wildfire spreads to adjacent communities. While the causes of wildfires vary and the outcomes are always unique, all wildfires can be characterized in terms of their physical properties, their fuel type, and the effect that weather has on the fire. Wildfire behaviour and severity result from the combination of factors such as available fuels, physical setting, and weather.<ref>Graham, et al., 12, 36</ref><ref>National Wildfire Coordinating Group Communicator's Guide For Wildland Fire Management, 4-6.</ref><ref name = FireBehavior>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> While wildfires can be large, uncontrolled disasters that burn through {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} or more, they can also be as small as {{safesubst:#invoke:convert|convert}} or less.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref name="MapTerms">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref>Glossary of Wildland Fire Terminology, 156</ref> Although smaller events may be included in wildfire modeling, most do not earn press attention. This can be problematic because public fire policies, which relate to fires of all sizes, are influenced more by the way the media portrays catastrophic wildfires than by small fires.<ref name="Alvarado, et al., 66-68">Alvarado, et al., 66-68</ref><ref>{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref>Olson, et al., 2-3</ref>

Wildfire sections
Intro  Causes  Fuel type  Effect of weather  Ecology  History  Prevention  Policy  Detection  Suppression  Fire retardant  Human risk and exposure   Health effects   Notable wildfires  See also  References  Bibliography  External links