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Equipment Issues and Unruly Engine Sparks

Without proper care and maintenance, mechanical devices can spell trouble for a forest.

©iStockphoto.com/Fadyukhin

The invention and eventual mass-production of the internal combustion engine and other now commonplace machinery might have helped modernize society, but they also introduced a new threat to the world's wildernesses. That's because without the proper precautions, a running engine can spew hot sparks and bits of burning debris -- a potentially dangerous situation if that device is operating in a field or forest.

Enter the spark arrestor. It's typically a small device, but it has a big role in protecting against accidental wildfires. Different types are tailored to work best under different circumstances, but all spark arrestors basically act like filters that let exhaust out and keep embers in.

Spark arrestors are also installed in woodburning stoves and fireplaces to keep potential igniters from escaping -- both inside and out. They're not a 100 percent guarantee against wildfires, but they definitely help increase the odds that a stray spark won't start a blaze.

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