Wood piles are used by right clicking on a Box of Matches in your toolbelt to create a Fireplace, which allows you to cook Raw Meat and raise the body temperature of all nearby players. While they can be looted from farm and residential buildings, it is often more efficient to harvest the wood as needed by using a Hatchet rather than carrying it around.
This page contains information about the mod version of DayZ. Standalone information is available here.
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