The 2021 wildfire season is one of the worst in U.S. history.
“Only you can prevent forest fires” is the message Smokey Bear has shared for decades but the problem of human caused wildfires remains. Millions of acres have burned across the west and there were more than 50 large fires actively burning as of Aug. 16. Most of the fires could have been prevented because most of them were started by people. In Washington, human-caused fires like those started by cigarettes, campfires and more account for a total of 737 fires. Additionally, as more people have turned to the outdoors because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the problem is only getting worse.
State fire investigations often take months to determine an official cause for a wildfire. That means these numbers for human-caused fires are only expected to get higher.