9 Out of 10 Forest Fires are Caused by Humans

Last Updated on June 12, 2023 by Ellen Christian

In 2014 there were 7,933 wildfires caused by lightning, but 55,679 wildfires caused by human error.

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I’m sharing these fire prevention tips in hopes that it will help. Living in the country, it’s not unusual to see campfires or people burning brush in their yard or in their fields. 

Fire safety tips for Fire Prevention Month with Smokey the Bear

Fire Prevention Tips

People have fires when they go camping or at the beach when they cook lunch. We have them to roast marshmallows over the summer and my parents burn the brush from their garden each fall. Each year we learn of devastating wildfires caused by careless behavior which can impact millions of acres of forest and thousands of homes. 

I can still remember learning about Smokey Bear and fire safety when I was in school. Did you know that he was created in 1944 when the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council agreed that a fictional bear named Smokey would be the symbol for their effort to promote forest fire prevention?

In the spring of 1950, in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico, a young bear cub found himself caught in a burning forest. He took refuge in a tree, and while managing to stay alive was left badly burned.

The firefighters who retrieved him were so moved by his bravery, they named him Smokey.

Since this is Fire Prevention Month, I wanted to share these fire prevention tips with you.

How to grill pizza

Dispose of coals properly

Charcoal briquettes and ash from woodstoves and fireplaces can start wildfires. When disposing of briquettes and ash outside, drown the charcoal and ash with lots of water; stir them, and soak again. Be sure they are out cold!

Watch for sparks

Sparks from lawnmowers and power equipment DO start wildfires. Be careful on hot, dry days, and be sure to get your equipment checked regularly.

Proper car etiquette: Be sure chains and other metal parts aren’t dragging from your vehicle – they throw sparks.

Check your tire pressure – driving on an exposed wheel rim can cause sparks. Be careful driving through or parking on dry grass. Hot exhaust pipes can start the grass on fire.

Never let your brake pads wear too thin; metal on metal makes sparks.

Watch the butts

If you are going to smoke and it is permitted outdoors, safe practices require at least a 3-foot clearing around the smoker. Grind out your cigarette, cigar, or pipe tobacco in the dirt.

Never grind it on a stump or log. Never throw it away into the brush or leaves. It is unsafe to smoke while walking or riding a horse or trail bike because you never know where the ash will land.

Use your ashtray while in your car.

Fire resistant spaces

Creating a 30-foot zone of fire-resistant space around your home will help prevent fires from starting near or spreading to your home. In addition, consider using fire-resistant plants and landscaping that may help to protect your house from a wildfire.

Fire prevention tips

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14 thoughts on “9 Out of 10 Forest Fires are Caused by Humans”

  1. I had no idea that so many forest fires were caused by humans! We definitely need to do all we can to prevent them, especially while camping.
  2. I can't believe that 55,679 wildfires caused by human error. That is just plain scary! Thanks for sharing these tips. It is incredibly important to be cautious and not be careless.
  3. We have always been very careful to teach out kids proper fire safety tips when we go camping. It is so sad to see a forest devastated because of someone's carelessness!
  4. I grew up on 100 acres in the Adirondack Mountains so fire safety has always been important to me growing up. It's amazing how many fires are started by people throwing cigarettes out the window.

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