Fire can be nature's friend or a devastating enemy depending on the situation. People have used it to cook food and to heat their homes, but fire can also destroy homes and take human life. Fire is made up of oxygen, fuel and heat. If all three of these ingredients are not present, a fire will not start. There are also three stages of a fire including pre-heating, flaming combustion and glowing combustion. Fire is also part of the forests' ecosystem and acts to clean the dead fuel littering the forest floor. Fires are an important part of the natural growth cycle of forests so sometimes prescribed fires are necessary. The ash left from a forest fire is also used by nature as a nutrient for new plants. There are three types of wildfires including ground fires, surface fires and crown fires. Wildfires destroy millions of acres of forest every year. In recent years, fires have scorched large sections of Yellowstone National Park, British Columbia and Australia. Well-known city fires have also occurred over the years including the Oakland, California fire in 1991 that killed 25 people and destroyed over 3,000 homes. Following fire codes and being prepared with fire extinguishers can help prevent many fires. There are many specially trained firefighters including those at fire stations, hot shots and smoke jumpers. A part of the "Disaster Alert" series, this book also includes a glossary, index, and a fire safety plan. 2004, Crabtree Publishing Company, Ages 9 to 12.