STATES CHRONICLE – Studies indicated that about 80% of wildfires in America are human-induced. They are responsible for 84% of all fires in the US. The study comprised the data recorded in a 20-year period. The remaining of 16% of fires were triggered by natural causes, like lightning. Bethany Bradley together with her colleagues from the University of Massachusetts has indicated that there occurred 1.5 million wildfires which happened between 1992 and 2002.
The study indicated that human-induced fires were triple the length of lightning-ignited fires. Every year, the average number of wildfires was of 40,000. The fires accounted for approximately half of 44% of burned areas. Based on the information provided by the team of researchers, humans are responsible for expanding fires into areas and environmental conditions compared to lighting-ignited fires.
The authors of the study argued that lightning develops enough ignition pressure to determine wetter materials to burn, growing the fire niche, responsible for measuring dryness, fuel mass, and ignition sources. The new study focused on wildfires which required firefighters to be squelched. In recent years, fighting wildfires meant spending approximately two billion dollars.
Jennifer Balch, the co-lead author of the study and a professor at the University of Colorado, stated that in the spring, fires ignite in the Southeast and later in the fall they occur in the West. During the last ten years, many fatal and costly fires burnt the western part of United States. States like Colorado, California, Washington, and Oregon faced the most massive wildfires ever registered.
Contrary to what people may think, human-induced fires are more common in spring and fall compared to the rest of the year. Lightning-ignited fires mainly happen in the mountains from the west during the summer time. July 4th was the day when approximately 7,700 wildfires started, being known as the most common day for human-ignited wildfires.
The main reasons which lie on the ground of human-induced fires are children, campfires, equipment use, arson and burning debris. The team of researchers proposed regional and national policy initiatives, having as sole purpose to reduce the human factor in wildfires. Specialists also pointed out that the urban areas are bound to intermingle with natural areas, being estimated to double by 2030. Thus, the fire vulnerability will increase even more.
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