Firefighters on the Rock Mountain Wildfire on the Chattahoochee National ForestFire Management

Wildland fires are a force of nature that can be nearly as impossible to prevent, and as difficult to control, as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods.

Wildland fire can be a friend and a foe. In the right place at the right time, wildland fire can create many environmental benefits, such as reducing grass, brush and trees that can fuel large and severe wildfires and improving wildlife habitat. In the wrong place at the wrong time, wildfires can wreak havoc, threatening lives, homes, communities and natural and cultural resources.

The Forest Service in the Southern Region has been managing wildland fire on national forests and grasslands for more than 100 years. But we don’t – and can’t – do it alone. Instead, we work closely with other federal, tribal, state and local partners.

This is more important than ever because over the last few decades, the wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Longer fire seasons; bigger fires and more acres burned on average each year; more extreme fire behavior; and wildfire suppression operations in the wildland urban interface (WUI) have become the norm. This is due to a variety of factors, including climate change, buildups of flammable vegetation, insect and disease infestations, nonnative species invasions, and increasing numbers of homes and communities in the WUI. Wildfire suppression has become much more complex and costly as a result.

To address these challenges, the Forest Service and its other federal, tribal, state and local partners have developed and are implementing a National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy (link is external) that has three key components: Resilient Landscapes; and Fire Adapted Communities.


When people see stories about wildfire in the media, they're often left with some burning questions that we'd like to answer, such as:

1. Why do some wildfires burn for many, many weeks?

2. Why can't they do something about the smoke?

3. What happens to the animals during a wildfire?

4. Who starts the fires?

5. Who fights the fires?

If you have any other questions you'd like answered about wildfires, contact us and we'll post the answers here and on our Twitter account.