What Causes Wildfires In California?

Wildfires in California cause billions of dollars in property damage in addition to numerous fatalities. More and more people are looking to find out what starts these fires, especially since the number and severity of these disasters have increased over the last few years, according to New Jersey Employment Attorneys.

What Is A Wildfire?

The National Wildfire Coordinating Group describes a wildfire as a wild-land blaze that is both unplanned and unwanted. According to this definition, wildfires can take the form of escaped natural or prescribed wild-land blazes; illegal wildland fires caused by human beings; and any other sort of wild fire that is required to be put out.

Causes Of California Wildfires

Wildfires in the state of California can be started by any of the following causes.


Human beings have been said to cause some of California’s largest wildfires, albeit indirectly at times. However, some fires have been as a result of the actions of arsonists. One of the latest and largest blazes in the state, the Holy Fire, which started in Holy Jim Canyon in Orange County, is suspected to have been started by an arsonist.

Modern Equipment

Locomotive and automobile engines have been mentioned among the main causes of wildfires in many parts of the US, including California. Between the late 1800s to the early 1900s, coal powered locomotive engines were identified as one of the main causes of wildfires through the spread of fire igniting sparks. This led to the invention of the spark arrestor. This invention countered the release of fire causing sparks from these historic engines, as well as modern internal combustion engines and wood fuelled stoves among others.

However, all eventualities were not planned for accordingly, as one of the most recent and largest wildfires in California, the Carr fire is suspected to have resulted from the sparks released from the friction between a vehicle’s bare rim and the road surface after one of its tires burst.

Power Supply Lines

California wildfires may also be started by power supply lines located above ground. Strong winds, blowing from the Pacific Ocean for instance, may cause weak power lines to break or make contact leading to the release of fire igniting sparks. Fires may also start as a result of branches falling over the lines.

Over the years a variety of wildfires have been started by power lines in one way or the other; with Pacific Gas and Electric, the main energy supplier in the state, bearing the blame on some occasions.

Other Causes

Other causes of wildfires include burning debris, campfires, fireworks, cigarettes and cigarette butts among others. It’s however worth noting that these causes account for less than five percent of all wildfires.

What Is Fuelling California Wildfires?

Climate change and dead trees are also said to be among the main reasons why wildfires in the state of California are burning across larger areas and for longer.

Extended periods of dry weather with some period of precipitation in between combine to create the ingredients for huge wildfires. The precipitation encourages the rapid growth of bush and grass cover; afterwards hot weather dries out the vegetation, providing fuel for massive wildfires. Dead trees resulting from widespread insect infestations in California’s forests also work to fuel the blaze.

As more housing units are constructed in high-risk areas when it comes to wildfires, it’s also highly likely that we will see more fires caused by humans, whether directly or indirectly.