According to the Wikipedia page of flares, flares create intense heat.

A flare, also sometimes called a fusee, is a type of pyrotechnic that produces a brilliant light or intense heat without an explosion.

Could the flares launched by an aircraft as a defensive countermeasure against a heat-seeking missile cause a fire once they reach the ground?

  • $\begingroup$ Any pryotechnic released close enough to combustable materials will combust, I'm not sure what the question is? Are you asking if the flares are flame-resistant? Are you asking if they are designed to extinguish before hitting the ground? Are you asking from what altitude they can be released without touching the ground in a combusting state? $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Jul 10 '18 at 22:01
  • $\begingroup$ I'm wondering if the event of a fire starting on ground due to flares launched from above (Likely due to flammable terrain such as a forest) has already happened. $\endgroup$ – Cedric Martens Jul 10 '18 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ Not really an aviation question.... $\endgroup$ – Cloud Jul 11 '18 at 9:21

I have no idea how likely it is general, but it seems that flares are indeed sometimes blamed for causing wildfires on the ground.

In New Jersey (2007):

A massive wildfire that has already burned thousands of acres in the Pinelands and forced the evacuation of residents in two towns likely started this afternoon when an F-16 fighter jet dropped flares as part of a maneuver over a gunnery range, New Jersey National Guard officials said tonight.


"We believe it was one of our F-16s on a routine training mission that dropped the flare that started the fire," said Lt. Col. James Garcia, a spokesman for the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. "There's going to be an investigation."

In Oregon (2017):

A remnant of a military flare was found at one of the areas burned, triggering a call to the Air National Guard, which uses flares in self-defense training exercises over those same areas that burned. Flares are deployed in air combat to draw heat-seeking missiles away from their targets.

After being contacted by investigators about the fires, the Oregon National Guard agreed to suspend the use of flares. Agencies also engaged them about mitigation techniques to employ if it is determined that the guard was the cause.


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