90% of wildland fires caused by humans

The Cassadore Springs Fire ignited from lightning on the San Carlos Apache Reservation.

It's no secret that the White Mountains is experiencing one of the driest monsoon seasons in three years.

Fuels on the ground contribute to the risk of wildfire. However, no matter the climate, the years of drought or the lack of forest thinning, people cause a significant percentage of wildfires.

"Almost 90% of wildland fires in the United States are caused by people," according to the U.S. Department of Interior and the Insurance Information Institute. The specific causes cited are unattended campfires, burning of debris, downed power line, negligently discarded cigarettes and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 10% are started by lightning or lava.

Arizona is already at high risk for wildfires and, in 2019, was ranked the most wildfire-prone state in the western US. Extreme wildfire risk Arizona was followed by California, Nevada, Utah and Alaska, respectively. This is according to a wildfire risk management tool call Fireline, Verisk.

The National Interagency Fire Center also ranked Arizona as one of the top five states in the country for human-caused wildfires in 2020. Top 5 states for human caused fires. California was ranked first with 5,878 human-caused fires, followed by Texas, North Carolina, Florida - and finally, Arizona.

1. California - 5,878 human-caused fires for 134,050 acres

2. Texas - 3,033 human-caused fires for 134,496 acres

3. North Carolina - 1,855 human-caused fires for 8,294 acres

4. Florida - 1,684 human-caused fires for 53,222 acres

5. Arizona - 1,442 human-caused fires for 309,201 acres

Wildfire update

This is a summary of fire activity in the surrounding area:

Cassadore Springs Fire - The Pinetop Fire District had crews assisting with the lightning-caused Cassadore Springs Fire that ignited August 1. "The fire activity is slowing down and control lines are holding," said the local District in a Facebook post last week.

The Fort Apache Camp Crew #6 also assisted on the Cassadore Springs Fire. Some of the Ft. Apache crews are now heading to the Pine Gulch Fire near Grand Junction, Colorado.

The nearby Kean Fire, also detected on August 1, burned into and combined with the Cassadore Springs Fire on August 3.

The fire had burned approximately 21,284 acres and is 90% contained as of last Thursday, Aug. 13.

Quail Fire- On Saturday, Aug. 15, the Quail Fire started in an area roughly seven miles northwest of the San Carlos Apache reservation. It was at about 100 acres.

Polles Fire - The lightning-caused Polles Fire that started July 15, 11 miles west of Payson, is 92% contained. Approximately 628 acres were burned. Tragically, a 37-year old valley firefighter named Bryan Boatman lost his life to the fire when his helicopter crashed on a support mission.

Fort Apache - The Bureau of Indian Affairs Forestry and Wildland Fire Management is hosing a Wildland Fire Prevention Team for a two-week assignment from Aug. 10-23.

The Wildland Fire Prevention Team consist of team members from the Southwest and Western Regions. This is the first virtual Fire Prevention Team being mobilized in Indian Country. The team's mission is to work with the Tribes and Agencies within the Region to enhance ongoing local wildfire outreach prevention efforts.

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Laura Singleton is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering Show Low city government, business and education.

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