Wildfire in Northwest Territories, Canada
A wildfire is a large and uncontrolled fire that spreads rapidly, typically in a woodland setting. In order to start and perpetuate, wildfires require three things — oxygen, fuel (any flammable material in the wildfire's vicinity), and a heat source to spark the fire and heat fuel sources enough to be ignitable. While lightning, changing weather patterns and the sun itself can serve as heat sources, 80-90 percent of wildfires are caused by humans or human-related incidents.
A form of natural disaster, wildfires become deadly and destructive very quickly. They can engulf acres of land and consume everything in their wakes in a span of minutes, moving as fast as 14 mph. 4 million acres of land are estimated to be burned every year in the US due to wildfires.
Despite their highly damaging nature, wildfires also play a key role in preserving ecosystems. They destroyed diseased plants, help return nutrients to the forest floor by burning dead matter, and help sunlight reach seedlings by burning through forest canopies. In Australia, where wildfires are especially common, certain native flora have even evolved to depend on wildfires for their existence.  (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Death toll continues to rise in California wildfires

Insurance companies deploy private firefighters in wildfire-scorched California

Mule saved from pool during California wildfire

Airbnb's heart shines bright during disasters

California firefighters battle new 15,000-acre wildfire near Redding

In Florida's Everglades, prescribed burning helps head off larger wildfires

NASA brings 'aerosol Earth' into mesmerizing color

Limiting suburban sprawl can ease the devastation of wildfires

Wildfires are the 'new normal' for California

Watch firefighters battle a 'firenado' in the U.K.

This is what the Carr Fire in California looks like from a plane

Otherworldly wildfires blaze across Manchester moors