[3/1/17] Recent Wildfire Study: 84% Are Caused By Humans

Posted in Feature, Wildfire


A new study of wildfire data shows that humans are responsible for 84 percent of all wildfires started in the United States, but those fires burn only 44 percent of the acreage consumed by wildfires.

The study by the University of Colorado-Bolder also says that humans tripled the length of the wildfire season, noting that lightning-caused fires occur primarily in the Summer.

The researchers used the U.S. Forest Service Fire Program Analysis-Fire Occurrence Database to study records of all wildfires that required a response from a state or federal agency between 1992 and 2012, omitting intentionally set prescribed burns and managed agricultural fires.

The most common day for human-started fire by far, however, was July 4, with 7,762 total wildfires started on that day over the course of the 21-year period.

The new findings have wide-ranging implications for fire management policy and suggest that human behavior can have dramatic impact on wildfire totals, for good or for ill.

The findings were published yesterday (Mon) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.