Can You Survive A Forest Fire Underground

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Last Updated on June 12, 2023 by Umar

As wildfires become more frequent and intense, people are searching for ways to protect themselves and their homes.

One question that arises is whether it’s possible to survive a forest fire underground, such as in a bunker.

In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore personal experiences, research, and statistics to provide a detailed answer to this question.

Personal Experiences and Stories

On, users discussed the idea of using an underground bunker as a survival solution for wildfires

. While some users believed that a bunker with proper ventilation and storage could potentially save lives, others argued that clearing the area around the house and using fireproof materials for the exterior would be more effective.

Research and Statistics

Fire scientists Alistair Smith and Crystal Kolden suggest that communities should look to the natural world for ways to make homes more resilient to wildfires

. They point out that some plants hide their valuable resources underground in their roots, allowing them to regrow quickly after a fire.

Many animals burrow underground to hide from flames, while birds can fly high and away from danger. Humans could potentially adopt similar strategies, such as burying power lines and building underground structures to shelter in place.However, it’s important to note that surviving a wildfire is not solely about finding the right shelter.

Weather Underground emphasizes that homeowners should prepare for the eventuality of fire by planting fire-resistant shrubs and trees, regularly cleaning roofs and gutters, and inspecting chimneys. The National Forest Foundation also highlights the importance of understanding fire regimes and how they affect forest health.The U.S.

Department of the Interior provides 10 tips to prevent wildfires, including checking weather and drought conditions, and understanding that fire is vital for some wildlife habitats. By following these guidelines, individuals can help reduce the risk of wildfires and protect their homes and communities.


While there is no definitive answer to whether one can survive a forest fire underground, it’s clear that a combination of strategies is necessary to protect lives and property.

Building underground structures may provide some protection, but it’s crucial to also focus on fire prevention and mitigation efforts.

By learning from nature and adopting a proactive approach, we can better prepare for and adapt to the growing threat of wildfires.

Helpful Resources


What are some fire prevention and mitigation strategies individuals can adopt to protect their homes from wildfires?

Here are some fire prevention and mitigation strategies individuals can adopt to protect their homes from wildfires:

  1. Wildfire Home Hardening: Retrofitting homes with fire-resistant materials and creating defensible space around homes and communities. Home modifications include replacing the roof with metal, clay, or tile, installing metal gutters, and upgrading to dual-paned windows with one pane of tempered glass.
  2. Community Wildfire Preparedness and Mitigation: Working with stakeholders on wildfire planning to reduce or eliminate fire hazards and risks, modifying the environment by removing or reducing receptive fuels, conducting fire hazard compliance inspections, and providing education and grant opportunities for wildfire prevention efforts.
  3. Avoiding Wildfire Damage: Using fire-resistant materials in the siding of your home, such as stucco, metal, brick, cement shingles, concrete, and rock. Treating wood siding with UL- .
  4. Defensible Space: Creating a buffer between your home and vegetation can improve your home’s chance of surviving a wildfire. The intensity of wildfire fuel management varies within the 100-foot perimeter of the home, with more intense fuels’ reduction occurring closer to your home. Start at the home and work your way out to 100 feet or to your property line, whichever is closer. The defensible space is divided into three zones: Ember-Resistant Zone, Lean, Clean and Green Zone, and the Reduced Fuel Zone.
  5. Prepare and Protect Your Home: Cleaning roof surfaces and gutters of pine needs, leaves, branches, etc., regularly to avoid accumulation of flammable materials. Removing portions of any tree that extends within 10 feet of the chimney, stovepipe, or any other attachment to the home. Removing vegetation and items that could catch fire from around and under decks, balconies, and.
  6. Ignition Resistant Homes: Harden the home to wildfire with ignition-resistant siding, roofs, decks, attic vents, eaves, and windows. Avoid storing combustible materials on or under decks. Remove vegetation and flammable mulch to create a five-foot buffer zone around the home. Clean gutters and roofs of debris. Use careful landscaping to reduce the continuity of fuels and help slow fire down. Remove branches that overhang the structure. Replace wood fencing with noncombustible metal fencing where it attaches to the home.

Besides building underground structures, what other natural strategies can be learned and implemented to make homes more resilient to wildfires?

There are several natural strategies that can be learned and implemented to make homes more resilient to wildfires.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Maintain defensible space: This tactic can slow or stop the spread of wildfire and help to prevent spot fires caused by flying embers. Defensible space is an area around a building where vegetation and other debris are cleared, reduced, or replaced with fire-resistant plants.
  2. Reduce fuel availability: A key strategy for reducing wildfire risk in a landscape is to reduce the amount of available fuel a fire can consume. Managing and reducing vegetation in and around homes can help reduce the risk of wildfire.
  3. Restore and maintain landscapes: Restoring and maintaining landscapes can help make them more resilient to wildfires. This includes activities such as thinning forests, removing invasive species, and restoring natural fire regimes.
  4. Heed the power of nature: The natural environment around us can be resilient to wildfire and other climate impacts if we conserve and steward these open spaces, which in turn can help protect our homes and communities.

Can you provide more information on the importance of understanding fire regimes and their impact on forest health?

Understanding fire regimes and their impact on forest health is important for several reasons.

Here are some key points:

  • Fire regimes can promote biodiversity, heterogeneity, and dynamic ecosystem stability.
  • In forests with frequent, low-severity fire regimes, fire prevents trees from growing together to the point of preventing sunlight from reaching the forest floor, which can lead to a buildup of fuels and more severe fires in the future.
  • Climatic changes and associated stressors can interact with altered vegetation conditions to affect fire frequency, extent, and severity, as well as forest conditions in the future.
  • Human influence through domestic livestock grazing, road construction, conversion of land to agriculture, and urbanization has resulted in (direct or indirect) exclusion of fires in dry forests, which can lead to more severe fires in the future.
  • Fire regimes are changing and intensifying due to climate change and land use, making it more important than ever to understand these dynamics.
  • Understanding the causes and consequences of wildfire is important for global biodiversity conservation.
  • Fire can be a natural ecosystem process that promotes biodiversity and ecosystem health.