The arrival of vacation season and increasing wildfire activity with hot, dry summer weather in the West is prompting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to ask the public to help prevent wildland fires, the majority of which are caused by people.
The Southwest and Alaska are currently experiencing fire activity, with numerous large wildfires occurring, and other states may experience significant wildfire activity over the next few months.
“Every year, human-caused wildfires comprise approximately 87 percent of all wildfire ignitions across the country, posing considerable threat to public and firefighter safety,” said William Perry Pendley, BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs. “These wildfires are preventable and this year, more than ever, our wildland firefighters need the public’s help in reducing human-caused wildfire risk.”
The National Interagency Fire Center’s (NIFC) Predictive Services unit, which assesses wildfire potential throughout the country, predicts above-normal wildfire potential this year in areas of Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Hawaii due to expected high temperatures, dry vegetation, and other weather factors including high winds.
Because of these conditions, human-caused wildfire ignitions have the potential to quickly grow out of control and threaten lives, property, and precious natural resources. People accidentally start wildfires during numerous activities, so the public is asked to help reduce ignitions from causes such as campfires, debris burning, equipment use, or even from an automobile’s hot tailpipe scorching dry grass.
“We always encourage visitors to enjoy public lands,” added Pendley. “We just ask them to enjoy their public lands responsibly; with a few simple precautions, they can reduce human-caused wildfires throughout the country. Fewer human-caused wildfires will allow our wildland firefighters to focus more on lightning-caused wildfires, which we cannot prevent.”
The BLM works with its local, state, and federal partners to provide wildfire prevention tips, tools, and techniques to reduce human-caused wildfires, including a recent video about how to prevent wildfires on public lands. Visit BLM Fire and Aviation’s Facebook page, or the National Interagency Fire Center’s wildfire prevention webpage, to find additional wildfire prevention resources.
Many states issue wildfire prevention orders every year to reduce human-caused wildfires, and some areas implement fire restrictions during periods of high wildfire risk. Visit www.blm.gov to find more information about possible fire prevention orders and fire restrictions in your area.
Additionally, people who live near wildlands should prepare their homes and communities for wildfire. A few simple landscaping techniques can greatly improve a home’s survivability during a wildfire event; visit www.nfpa.org for more information.