What causes wildfires

What causes wildfires

Wildfires are caused by natural phenomena and human activities quite often associated with negligence or accidental actions.

Natural phenomena that can cause wildfires include

  • Lightning strikes on a tree or dry vegetation can ignite a fire. These types of fires can be challenging to control if in remote locations.
  • Volcanic related phenomena, such as eruptions or geothermal activity, can lead to WILDFIRES by igniting nearby vegetation.

Human activities are a leading cause of wildfires. These include negligence and accidental actions:

Negligence actions

  • Campfires improperly managed, especially in dry conditions, can spread to surrounding vegetation.
  • Discarded cigarette butts can ignite dry grass or leaves.
  • Burning debris of, for example, yard waste, agricultural residue, or trash can lead to wildfires.

Accidental actions

  • Equipment sparks from machinery, power lines, railroads or vehicles, especially in dry and windy conditions, can ignite fires.

In addition to primary causes of wildfires, several conditions, mostly associated with human activities, can favor ignition or spread of fire. Here are some of them

  • Droughts and dry conditions cause vegetation to be highly flammable, and favor fire ignition and rapid spreading.
  • Winds can carry sparks or embers, known as spotting fires and ignite new fires. Wind-driven fires can spread quickly and become more challenging to control.
  • Invasive species and pest infestations, such as bark beetles, can weaken trees and make them more susceptible to fire. Dying or dead trees can become fuel for wildfires.
  • Global Warming causes the frequency increase of wildfires events, their severity and the length of fire seasons. Global Warming heavily affects the capacity of plants’ restoration after the fire. It increases the severity of fire by burning at a high temperature and sometimes reaching down to the roots of trees. It hinders the moisture conditions needed for vegetation to recover.
  • Human settlements near forests, known as the wildland-urban interface, increases the danger of fires and its risk. Human settlements can inadvertently introduce ignition sources and can pose risk if fires spread to urban areas.

Wildfire hazard and dangers