Wildland Fire

Hazard Description Careers in Wildland Fire | US Forest Service

A wildland fire is a fire that starts in, or moves into, areas where there is primarily vegetation and brush and limited structures. Wildland fires can result from natural causes or human activities. The main natural cause of wildland fires is lightning. Human activities that may cause fires include campfires, use of machinery near dry vegetation, improper disposal of ashes, and arson. A wildland fire spreads primarily by the consumption of vegetation, and the rate, area, and extent of consumption is dependent on three main factors: fuel, topography, and weather. These factors can sustain a wildland fire and predict a given area’s fire potential and the associated damage that can occur and affect land, infrastructure, and people.


Potential losses from wildland fire include human life, structures and other property improvements, natural and cultural resources, the quality and quantity of the water supply, assets such as timber, range and crop land, recreational opportunities, and economic losses. Smoke and air pollution from wildland fires can be a severe health hazard. In addition, catastrophic wildland fires can lead to secondary impacts or losses such as future flooding, landslides, and erosion during heavy rains.


Areas of the County, including the Forest Planning Area encompassing part of the Tahoe Basin, are
subject to additional development standards for protection from wildland fire hazards. Citizens can prevent wildland fires from affecting their home by creating defensible space, which is the act of making a buffer between your property and the grass, trees, shrubs, etc. that surround it. Citizens can also follow burn codes and ensure they are not using fire in inappropriate ways.

Sign-up for Alerts

Citizens can register for reverse telephone notification, called Code Red, as well as other notifications concerning alerts. To sign up, click on the “Regional Notification” link on the menu and follow the instructions.

To learn more about how to prevent and prepare for wildfires, visit Living with Fire here.