According to the latest findings, published on Monday, February 27th, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, five out of six wildfires in the nation have been caused by humans over the past two decades, rather than global warming, as previously suggested. This has led to making the wildfire season last longer in the West, start early in the East, and tripled the overall length of the scorch. Even though climate change does have a part to play in it, as well, facilitating the spreading of the fires and fueling it with dried weeds, the researchers said humans played an even bigger role.
Researchers have long blamed people for the fires, rather than natural causes such as lightning. However, the fatal duo, meaning global warming and irresponsible people, threatens to cause greater ignitions in the future, making the matter even worse, said fire experts.
For their work, the researchers analyzed data on wildfires from 1992 to 2012. They found that roughly 84 percent of all fires have been started by people, either by arsonists or oblivious individuals. However, the fires only spread across 44 acres, mentioned the fire experts. However, in recent times, the wildfires appear to have tripled in length from 46 to 154 days.
Since 1992, over 1 million fires have been started by humans within the country’s borders. The researchers said that approximately 21 percent of those fires were started intentionally, 29 percent started by trash burning, and 11 percent were due to people misusing electric equipment, said University of Colorado’s fire ecologist, Jennifer Balch.
The most expensive fire in U.S. history has been sparked in California by an illegal campfire. Firefighters battled the flames for three months straight, costing the nation more than $200 million in firefighting costs. Also, the researchers noted that one out of five wildfires is caused by fireworks on the Fourth of July.
Up to date, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky saw the most violent fire seasons, stretching over 200 days. 99 percent of those wildfires were caused by humans, the researchers said. The fire experts reached this conclusion, as the region where the fires started are home to forests with trees that don’t normally catch fire, said University of Colorado’s Adam Mahood, co-author of the study.
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