Causes and effects of forest fires in California

California is a U.S state located in the west coast of North America. It has the largest population in relation to all other U.S states and third largest by area. The area varies greatly from forested northern coastal regions to the rugged interior mountains and to the harsh southern desert.


Over the past two and half decades, the state has experienced the most destructive blazes all of which has been ignited in all kinds of ways (Mantell 167). The causes of these forest fires ranges from lightning storms, troubled firebugs, target shooters, negligent campers, careless tree trimmers who deliberately fell trees on the active power lines as well as over dry grass in the middle of the summer (Mantell 167).

State statistics from 2013 suggests that the common causes of the wildfires is stray flames from burning debris, standing at 14 percent (Eliseo and  Seriña 43). Vehicle sparks have also contributed to 9 percent of the fires reported in 2013. Power lines, lawn mowers and other equipment contributed 15 percent of the forest fire recorded in 2013 (Mantell 167).

Fire experts have highly blames the human as the likely cause of the fires accidentally or intentionally. Peoples have been arrested and charged for suspicion of arson while others start it accidentally hence there hasn’t been any legal action taken against them by the authorities (Eliseo and  Seriña 43). Morgan Fire in 2013 was started accidentally by a target shooter on a private land when he fired his a riffle. The man was not charged since the ignition was deemed accidental.

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In remote parts of the world, fire are caused by natural events such as lightning strikes but according to Cal Fire, the state’s firefighting agency, most of the forest fires in southern California are started by  people (Mantell 167). This accounts to more than ninety five percent of the fires that have been recorded in the past.

According Jon Keeley of the US geological Survey, the situation may worsen due to the expected population growth. The Metropolitan San Diego’s population is expected to rise to around 4.5 million people by the year 2050. This is expected to increase the probability of more fires in California.

Outdoor equipment such as lawnmowers and power saws are also common sources of these fire. It is estimated that 20 percent of the fires recorded between 2000 and 2010 in San Diego County were caused by power tools (Eliseo and  Seriña 43).


California forest fires have teared through multiple ecosystems. The fires have displaced several homes, wildlife, and vegetation (Eliseo and  Seriña 43). According to the recent study, fire fighters are attempting to control the blue cut fire in the north of San Bernardino where several buildings and homes burned displacing more than 82,000 people (Smithson, Addison and Atkinson 637). Scarce plant species that are only found in certain areas like Riparian woodland have also perished as a result of these forest fires.

Soil have been destroyed in areas where forest fires have been experienced. Forest fires are usually too hot and makes the forest soil which is made with decaying nutrients and debris with a lot of natural ingredients to lose all the nutrients (Eliseo and  Seriña 43).

Forest fires in California have led to an increased area of bare land leading to less clean air for humans and animals to breathe (Smithson, Addison and Atkinson 637). This has contributed to a reduction of wild animals due to the lesser oxygen produces as well as the unavailability of plants to feed on which have been burnt down by the forest fires (Eliseo and  Seriña 43).

A large number of wild animals have lost their lives as a result of these forest fires. Birds and wildlife animals have perished leading to a great reduction of revenues in tourism sector.

Forest fires worsen the global warming as a result from emission of carbon dioxide released from the fires as well as the decayed dead plants (Eliseo and  Seriña 12). A reduction in trees and other plants have worsened the photosynthesis process making the greenhouse gas emitted to stay in the atmosphere for long (Smithson, Addison and Atkinson 637).

Large amount of smoke released from California forest fire has led to air pollution and difficulty in breathing (Smithson, Addison and Atkinson 637). This has negatively affected the heath of many people living near the areas of the incident as well as the animals living in those areas.

Human lives have been lost as a result of these forest fires. While fire fighters are in the mission to rescue others people, they put their life at risk and many have perished as a result (Eliseo and  Seriña 12).

The demand for insurance premiums have risen as every person living near the forests want to secure premium that can prevent devastating losses (Smithson, Addison and Atkinson 637). Only a few number people have been able to afford these premiums due to the increased price contributed by the demand factor in California.

The government usually puts in place restrictive measure from accessing certain recreational areas. These areas are only accessible when the debris are clear and the scene is determined as a safe place to visit or inhibit (Eliseo and  Seriña 12).

Forest fires that occur naturally play an integral part and role in nature by returning nutrients to the soil through burning dead or decaying matter (Eliseo and  Seriña 12). They also disinfect and remove disease-ridden plants and harmful insects from the forest.

In conclusion, California government should put measures to protect dangerous zones of forests. Public should be educated on the causes of forest fires and ways to evade them (Eliseo and  Seriña 12). Towers should be built at intervals in every forest so as to watch the forest in case of fire. Fire extinguishers should also be readily available especially in highly risky areas.


Works Cited

Eliseo, B and  Seriña. Burn California Burn!!!: …this one I’ll start. California: Author House, 2013.

Mantell, C. Our Fragile Water Planet: An Introduction to the Earth Sciences. New York: Springer, 2013.

Smithson, Peter, Ken Addison and Ken Atkinson. Fundamentals of the Physical Environment: Fourth Edition. New Jersey: Routledge, 2013.