Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

November 22, 2016

True or false? People are the leading cause of wildfires in the United States.

  1. True
  2. False

To see the answer, scroll down below the image.

Fire is a natural part of the boreal forest, which is an ecosystem dominated by black and white spruce. Photograph credit: S.T. Rupp, Alaska Climate Science Center


The correct answer is true. As many as 90 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by humans, primarily through campfires left unattended, burning of debris, negligently discarded cigarettes and intentional acts of arson. The next most common source of wildfires is lightning. Keep in mind that there are many natural factors, such as vegetation and extreme heat or drought, which can combine with human factors to increase fire activity and risk. The USGS provides tools and information before, during and after fire disasters to identify wildfire risks and reduce subsequent hazards, while providing real-time geospatial support for firefighters during the events.

Click here to learn more.

"Hazard a Guess?" is an ongoing series, so check out past questions and come back soon for more. Don't forget to share these with friends and family to help raise awareness of natural hazards.

Get Our News

These items are in the RSS feed format (Really Simple Syndication) based on categories such as topics, locations, and more. You can install and RSS reader browser extension, software, or use a third-party service to receive immediate news updates depending on the feed that you have added. If you click the feed links below, they may look strange because they are simply XML code. An RSS reader can easily read this code and push out a notification to you when something new is posted to our site.