CROWN KING, Ariz. – Playing with matches, being careless with a campfire, even burning a letter from an estranged husband: Some of the most devastating wildfires in the country’s recent history have been started by people.
In Arizona, the latest human-caused wildfire has burned more than 15 square miles, destroyed four homes, forced a weeklong evacuation of more than 100 people and cost upward of $2 million to fight.
“It’s a little more depressing, or aggravating, when you know it’s a human-caused start and it could have been prevented,” said John Glenn, chief of fire operations for the federal Bureau of Land Management. “We’re dealing with Mother Nature all the time and it’s a given that we’re going to have lightning starts, but that’s a component that could be prevented.”
People caused more than 73,000 wildfires that burned more than 5,300 square miles in 2007, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, based in Boise. That compares with about 12,200 lightning-caused blazes that burned about 9,100 square miles.