What causes wildfire
What causes wildfires in British Columbia? There are two broad categories of causes:
Most wildfires in B.C. are started by lightning strikes. When lightning strikes an object it can release enough heat to ignite a tree or other fuels.
Although lightning caused fires cannot be prevented, there are ways of predicting where they might start. The risk from natural fires can also be reduced with fuel management and prescribed burning
The most important thing about human-caused wildfires is that they are preventable. The easiest way to fight a wildfire is to prevent it from starting.
Humans start wildfires in several ways, either by accident or intentionally. For example:
- Open burning
- Vehicle and engine use
- Industrial activity
- Fireworks, sky-lanterns, outdoor flame lighting
- Discarding burning items (cigarettes)
Determining wildfire cause
The cause of a wildfire is determined by professional investigations. The BC Wildfire Service employs Fire Origin and Cause Specialists to conduct investigations in accordance with international standards. They may look for:
- Ignition Sources
- Burn Patterns
- Physical Evidence
- Weather History
Wildfire investigations can be complex and may take weeks or even months to complete.
Frequently asked questions
The most common cause of wildfire in B.C. is lightning. Lightning activity causes approximately 60% of all wildfires every season.
When a wildfire is determined to be human-caused, Natural Resource Officers investigate to assess whether the incident was the result of illegal activities.
People who undertake illegal activities that cause wildfires could be found liable for wildfire suppression costs, damage to Crown forests and other forest or land resources, fines or administrative penalties and reforestation costs.