Fire Damage and Trees: What to do in the Event that Your Tree is Damaged by Fire

Thousands of trees are ravaged by fire every year in Australia. In 2013, there were 4,595 bushfires a week across the country-- that's a lot of burned trees. While Australia's hot and dry climate doesn't help matters, humans too are responsible for causing fires. Cinders from solid fuel barbecues can cause trees to erupt into flame, as can fires that were only intended to burn a small amount of waste in someone's backyard.

Fortunately, trees, especially trees native to Australia such as the gum tree, have adapted to conditions and can survive fire damage. Even when the damage appears to be catastrophic, a tree may yet recover within a year or two.

If one or more of your trees has recently suffered fire damage, no matter how bad things look do not assume the tree will die.

First, Assess the Damage

Even if your once-proud tree is now little more than a blackened skeleton you should perform a thorough examination before assuming the worst. First, you will need to check your tree's bark. Bark makes for excellent insulation when it comes to fire protection and so you first need to check that your tree's bark has done its job.

Check Your Tree's Bark

Scrape away a small section of your tree's bark from its trunk. You need to look for light colours here; pinks, greens and whites are all good signs. They show that the sensitive layer underneath the bark is still vital. However, burnt colours such as yellow, orange, or brown are signs of fire damage.

Walk around the tree and check the entire circumference of the trunk. If over 40 percent of the entire circumference has been damaged by the fire, your tree could die. The phloem layer, which is the layer beneath a tree's bark, transports nutrients around a tree and if it is damaged, this ability will be severely impaired.

Time Will Tell

Even badly damaged trees can survive severe fire damage. You might not know if your tree will recover for up to a year. Pests will attack badly injured trees, as will bacteria. Rain will also cause rot when it settles into the wounds of a tree's trunk. All you can do is ensure your tree has enough water. Be aware too of the dangers. If the tree is in close proximity to your home for example, once it dies, or a section of it dies, it will become a hazard.

To receive a reliable assessment of your tree's chances of survival, call an arborist. The alternative would be to wait up to a year. If you live in an area that experiences powerful storms from time to time, you should consider having the tree removed as quickly as possible. Injured or dying trees do not fare well in storms, nor do the dwellings and structures surrounding them. 

Contact companies that offer tree lopping for more information and assistance.