While natural fires can be a boon to forest ecosystems, nearly nine out of 10 destructive wildfires nationwide are caused by humans through unattended campfires, hot ashes, cigarettes and fires. fireworks. A single ember can travel miles from the original ignition site and cause a fire that spreads through forests and cities, sometimes spanning hundreds of thousands of acres.
These massive fires don’t just kill or displace animals and people; they also destroy livelihoods and homes. The smoke is deteriorating air quality, leading to increased respiratory illness and death in communities directly affected by the fire, and even across a continent. Indigenous peoples, communities of color, and low-income communities are often disproportionately affected due to poor access to health facilities, difficulty accessing technical and financial resources to rebuild, and limited access to health care. information and representation in decision-making. And due to climate change and increased population in fire-prone areas, the problem is getting worse – California reported its driest year in a century in 2021.
If you live in a high fire risk area, consider fireproofing your home using methods such as installing mesh over exterior vents, spacing bushes and trees, and keeping gutters clear of fire. debris. When enjoying a campfire, keep all flammable objects away from the pit, have firefighting tools nearby, and drown all fires diligently, leaving no embers or smoke.
Check out WWF’s Action Center to learn more about the many ways you can help protect nature wherever you are.