Humans To Blame For Most Of US Wildfires

First Posted: Feb 28, 2017 05:05 AM EST

Wildfires are among the most common hazards around the globe, especially during the warmest months of the year. However, it seems that it is not the weather that is to blame for these. Instead, people should look into themselves as the main source of massive fires.

According to The Washington Post, humans were the triggers to five out of six wildfires in the U.S. in the last two decades -- with the length of the wildfire season tripling in length, starting earlier in the East coast and lasting longer in the West. Despite climate change being a factor that worsens fire during the warm season, researchers believe that human activities actually play a bigger role.

Scientists who analyzed fire data from 1992 to 2012 found that over 84 percent of wildfires were started by people themselves, either by accident or on purpose. These human-caused blazes have tripled the length of the wildfire season to 154 days instead of the usual 46, as well.

Jennifer Balch, a fire ecologist from the University of Colorado, said that this is due mainly to people who are moving more and more into areas meant to be part of the "wild." Thus, this provides them with ignition for wildfires.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences noted that over 1 million fires were started by humans since 1992. Of all these, 29 percent began with trash burning, 21 percent by arson and 11 percent by equipment misuse. One in five wildfires also occurs on the Fourth of July due to fireworks.

In 2016, the Soberanes fire in California was said to have started due to an illegal campfire. It lasted for nearly three months, costing the government around $200 million, the most expensive firefighting expense in the U.S. history.

Thomas Swetnam of the University of Arizona, who was not involved in the study, commended the report via USA Today. He indicated the importance of the role people have in the lengthening of the fire season, as well as their contribution to the increasing number of large fires around the United States.

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