What are lines of fire?

Ponds can be incorporated into a line of fire.

Lines of fire, or bonfires, are areas where vegetation is cleared in hopes of stopping or at least slowing a fire. A line of fire may also be called a firebreak, in reference to the idea that it is intended to interrupt the fire’s trajectory, giving firefighting personnel a chance to control the fire. A wide variety of tools can be used to create the lines, and they take many forms, from natural features like rivers to labeled areas near the front lines of a fire.

Lines of fire are commonly used against wildfires.

Creating lines of fire is critical in fighting wildfires, because without lines of fire, a fire can quickly get out of control. By depriving the fire of fuel, the line slows the fire’s progress and confines it to a specific area, which can make it much easier to control. Typically, these lines are made by turning the earth with shovels or excavators. Sometimes firefighters take advantage of roads and paths to start a fire, using them as barriers rather than trying to cut new lines. A line can also be made using a controlled burn that consumes the fuel in an area before fire has a chance to reach it.

Lines of fire are usually made by turning the earth with excavators.

Working on the fire lines can be extremely dangerous as it puts firefighters in the direct path of the fire. There is always a danger that a fire will cross the line, trapping firefighters between the original fire and the new one, and firefighters tend to be especially careful while on the lines as a result. Lines are often considered the front lines, because it is common to establish a foothold in the line of fire and then work inward to control the fire.

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Gravel can be used to make a path, also used as a line of fire.

During catastrophic wildfires, lines of fire can spread over immense distances and it is not always possible to create lines of fire around an entire fire. In such cases, firefighters choose to focus on a specific area and location aircraft are used to ensure firefighters are not surrounded by fire as they work.

In especially fire-prone areas, people are often encouraged to project fire lines around their homes so they are safer in the event of a fire. These lines can be deliberately built into the landscaping, in the form of an artfully curved driveway, a strategic series of gravel paths, or a well-placed pond. In addition to creating lines of fire around a house, it’s also a good idea to keep vegetation close to a house well-trimmed so that if the fire jumps the line, you’ll still have trouble getting to the house.

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