Why Do Earthquakes Often Cause Damaging Fires?
The United States is no stranger to earthquakes. But why do earthquakes often cause damaging fires? What is the actual reason behind these unfortunate events after an earthquake hits? When we see an earthquake strike in California we often if not all the time see a fire happen as a result. Read on to understand exactly why earthquakes often cause damaging fires.
Earthquakes and Fires are the Perfect Storm
If an earthquake strikes the earth is physically moving. When this happens two tectonic plates cause shaking from the ground up. Unfortunately, powerlines and gas lines get caught in the mix and tend to fail when larger earthquakes strike. If a powerline or a gas line gets trapped in an earthquake often these lines will split apart with the earth. When gas lines are broken if there is even a slight spark it can start a massive damaging fire to the entire surrounding area.
If a fire does start due to an earthquake it needs to be put out immediately so it does not cause a large amount of damage. If the fire can be suffocated with water, woolen cloths, sand, or ashes it should extinguish the fire.
Fires Follow Earthquakes
Fires that follow earthquakes are often started by electrical failures due to powerlines being knocked down by trees or poles. Intense heat from fires will quickly destroy homes in the area that have been already damaged by an earthquake.
After an earthquake, among other reasons, it’s very common for a fire to start because of gas leaks. Gas leaks are as common after an earthquake as the earthquake itself. Anyone who has ever been in an earthquake before will know to turn their gas off as fast as possible to ensure that a fire does not start from a gas leak post-earthquake.
Fires are known to start after earthquakes because other objects tend to fall onto home heaters, fireplaces, or stoves. All of these spaces in a home should be away from anything that could even potentially ignite a fire.
Earthquakes, Gas Leaks, and Fires
If there is a gas leak in a public area following an earthquake do not go anywhere near it. In this case, you need to call the utility company or emergency services and let them know that there is a fire risk and the exact location of it. If phone lines are down make sure everyone in your area knows about the gas leak and evacuate immediately.
Earthquakes can cause buildings and bridges to collapse and also rupture gas lines and electrical lines within the buildings. Seismic waves cause earthquakes to happen and can cause gas lines to fail due to the movement of the earthquake. When this happens you may not realize that a gas line or powerline has failed and this is also a fire hazard post-earthquake.
How to Prevent Earthquakes From Causing Damaging Fires
The advice to give anyone for preventing a fire post-earthquake or other natural disaster is to turn off the gas to your home and have fire extinguishers ready and accessible. Anything that can start a fire or hazardous materials, especially during an earthquake need to be secured and stored in a sturdy place. These options aren’t 100% going to stop a fire from happening but they are excellent ways to do your part and try to prevent a fire from starting.
If you have gas appliances in your home and an earthquake hits do not try to use any of your appliances. Doing so can create a fire or even worse an explosion. Preventing any kind of fire should be on people’s minds after an earthquake so more damage does not occur.