Definition of wildfire in US English:



  • 1A large, destructive fire that spreads quickly over woodland or brush.

    • ‘Courageous ranch workers had to do their own backfiring, creating a line of burned brush so that the wildfire would not spread across it to other areas, McCullough said.’
    • ‘A different kind of threat tonight in Colorado, where a massive wildfire is spreading.’
    • ‘Reforestation is an essential step toward restoring forest areas damaged by wildfire.’
    • ‘A diverse mix of nearly 400 people discussed ways to improve forest health and address wildfire risks through locally driven efforts.’
    • ‘Wildfire has destroyed forests across the West.’
    • ‘Now there's movement to reduce the risk of destructive wildfire by increasing conditions for wildfires of renewal.’
    • ‘This is not surprising given the warm winter and early spring, said Larry McHale, West Vancouver supervisor for forestry, trails and wildfire.’
    • ‘The wildfire near Burbank, California, is spreading and about 60 homeowners have evacuated.’
    • ‘The Cedar Fire in San Diego County, which consumed almost 300,000 acres, burned 1,500 homes and killed 14 people, is the single worst wildfire in California history.’
    • ‘A broad cross-section of the community criticised local government, fire and land management authorities at a public forum last night, for not doing enough to stem the spread of wildfire.’
    • ‘Franklin knows that the hogan project will not solve all the problems for either the Navajo community or the overstocked forests still threatened by wildfire.’
    • ‘The issues of ecosystem management, forest health, and wildfire dominated the work of the Center in its first few years.’
    • ‘Prolonged dry periods and seasonal high winds in spring help create ideal conditions for wildfire to spread quickly through highly-flammable moorland undergrowth.’
    • ‘More and more western communities surrounded by forests are responding to the threat of destructive wildfire with a wide range of economic and policy changes.’
    • ‘The wildfire quickly spreads, consuming the thick, dried-out vegetation and almost everything else in its path.’
    • ‘Tonight a massive wildfire to the northwest of Los Angeles has spread to more than 20,000 acres.’
    • ‘In 1980, what had begun as a small controlled burn to create nesting ground for the bird turned into a massive wildfire, killing a Forest Service worker and engulfing the small village of Mack Lake.’
    • ‘Basic information such as how hot a fire burned within its perimeters seems essential to guide management actions for rehabilitating burned areas and reducing the risk of destructive wildfire.’
    • ‘Though fires burn quickly anyway - a 1935 wildfire in the Ocala National Forest burned 35,000 acres in just under four hours - man wants to regulate.’
    • ‘Historically, wildfire checked the spread of redcedar.’
  • 2historical A combustible liquid such as Greek fire that was readily ignited and difficult to extinguish, used especially in warfare.

    • ‘Aegon bellowed as he poured wildfire on Stokeworth.’
  • 3

    less common term for will-o'-the-wisp
    • ‘The moving lights which are called ball lightning when they occur indoors become wildfire or will-o'-the-wisps in the open air.’


  • spread like wildfire

    • Spread with great speed.

      ‘the news had spread like wildfire’
      • ‘China won't fully open its financial markets until the global community comes up with a workable mechanism that can contain financial disasters and prevent them from spreading like wildfire.’
      • ‘Normally such riots on such an emotive issue would spread like wildfire across the country.’
      • ‘Distance learning is spreading like wildfire.’
      • ‘Sometimes it's word of mouth, playground chat that spreads like wildfire.’
      • ‘As odd as it might seem, the idea catches on and spreads like wildfire.’
      • ‘Although the internet has dominated the discussion and study of new technologies, mobile telephony is the innovation that seems to be spreading like wildfire around the globe.’
      • ‘If they come across something good, word of mouth spreads like wildfire.’
      • ‘Sushi joints have been spreading like wildfire over the past few years, usurping the spots where short-lived soup and noodle places once stood and almost hoisting maki and sashimi into food-group status.’
      • ‘This group relies heavily on word-of-mouth to decide where to go next - and the word spreads like wildfire.’
      • ‘Experts say it spreads like wildfire with schools, nursing homes, hospitals and work places expected to be particularly badly hit.’
      grow unchecked, grow profusely, run riot, spread like wildfire, ramble, straggle
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