Do we have "civil(-ized) fire"?

Wildfire is a forest fire, an uncontrolled fire, and metaphorically, anything that is uncontrolled and destructive.

Fire also occurs other than in the wild, may be uncontrolled or uncontrollable on occasions, is almost always destructive.

Q: What is a fire that is not a wildfire, i.e., one that is not in a forest but in a developed zone?

meta: Incongruous how many sources say the antonym of wildfire is hate. What has hate to do with wildfire?

  • 3
    There are numerous words to describe fires in developed areas, namely urban fires, town and city fires, building or structure fires, and transportation fires, depending on how specific you want to be. The meta question, in my opinion, should warrant its own question, because I can't seem to find anything that'd explain pain being used. – VTH Aug 31 '18 at 7:40
  • 7
    Then please provide an example. It'd go a long way in helping us understand what you're truly asking for. As for the meta question, I have yet to find any authoritative source that provides pain as an antonym for wildfire. Merriam-Webster? Nope. Oxford? Nope. Collins? Nope. – VTH Aug 31 '18 at 8:11
  • 3
    What is the word for the human condition which presupposes that every expression must have an equal and opposite, and that there is total symmetry in language? I think an "urban fire" is the best you are going to get. – WS2 Aug 31 '18 at 9:24
  • 1
    @VTH 'Pain' the antonym cited in the question, and verified as a search result [here]( powerthesaurus.org/wildfire/antonyms) is 'hate'. I'm wondering if it was some odd typo, maybe for 'heat' (not that that makes much more sense) that got picked up and re-cited by content recyclers – Spagirl Aug 31 '18 at 9:27
  • 1
    There are lots of fires that don't take place in what we might call 'developed zones' eg that are carried out for land management purposes, such as stubble burning and muir-burn. These are controlled burns in countryside areas, but can turn into wild fires if the wind changes or they are badly managed. IS that the sort of thing you mean? – Spagirl Aug 31 '18 at 9:30

From a firefighting perspective, there are two broad types of unwanted fires. Structural fires and wildfires. As a rough rule of thumb, structural fires occurring when a building is burning. These tend to be more urban and occur in areas where people inhabit. Conversely, wildfires refer to fires that occur in rural areas that have fewer people and are sometimes called wildlands (hence wildfire). The Wikipedia article on wildfires provides a nice overview. Forest fires are a type of wildfire that many people use as a synonym. The reason firefighting splits the two types of fires is that they require different gear types to fight and use different methods. Also, many (probably most) firefighters are only trained to fight structural or wildland fires but not both.

Wildfires are also closely related to controlled burns, which can be done as a land management tool. A controlled burn that gets out of hand can become a wildfires. Conversely, controlled burn can be used as a tool to fight wildfires. Also, wildfires are sometimes left to burn in either remote wilderness areas or managed areas that where scheduled to be burned.

Personally, I received wildland firefighting training in college to help out with controlled burns, which gave me my perspective to answer this question. We were taught explicitly that we were not qualified to fight structural training. The US Forest Service has a career webpage for people interested in more details about this training.

Also, sorry but I cannot help you with your meta-question.


Love/hate Fire/ice Cold hearted-hate You set my heart on fire-love That line of thinking is likely the derivation for the meta.

To answer the question:

controlled fire

  • Hi Grammaticallychallenged! Welcome to English Language & Usage. We like to see answers with solid explanations and authoritative references. Perhaps you could edit your answer to provide more detail and some links to support it? Also, you might want to take the site tour and read through the help centre. – bookmanu Aug 31 '18 at 12:32
  • 1
    Actually, your second answer is wrong. The opposite of wildfire would be a structural fire. – Richard Erickson Aug 31 '18 at 14:48

Fire in a developed area, controlled, life-sustaining and nurturing, is 'home fire':

home fire, n.
A fire burning in the hearth of a home. Frequently fig. and in figurative contexts, with allusion to the home or to family life in general.


A 'bale-fire' (noun, types of bonfire, signal fire, beacon fire) might answer, but such fires could as easily be in undeveloped as developed areas.

As to the meta question regarding how 'hate' is an antonym, Grammaticallychallenged's answer is on target:

wildfire = ardor = love, thus opposite hate.


If you are looking for a term meaning fire without the negative connotation that a fire generally conveys, probably bonfire may fit your request:


A bonfire is a fire that is made outdoors, usually to burn rubbish. Bonfires are also sometimes lit as part of a celebration.

(Collins Dictionary)

enter image description here

Burning Mensch for Lag B'Omer: Archery, Fire Festival & Live Music | Palo Alto | Funcheap

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.