Wildfires have taken a top spot in the news as of late. They cost American taxpayers between $20 billion and $100 billion every year, in expenses that range from air pollution and soil degradation to public health challenges and loss of human life.
If it weren’t for humans, wildfires might be more manageable. Four of the top five causes of wildfires are man-made: campfires, smoking, outdoor burning, vehicle exhausts and brakes – and the one natural cause, lightning.
No state is immune from wildfires, in fact they have occurred in all 50 states but California take the top spot, suffering the most and also the worst of these deadly fires. In 2012, the amount of land burned in California was seven times as much as all the other western states combined. Californians spent more than twice as much as the other states in fire suppression, too, well over a billion dollars.
Not surprisingly, the five most costly wildfires in United States history all happened in California. Occurring between 1991 and 2007, those fires did a total of more than $6.5 billion in damages. During 2003, in San Diego alone, almost 400,000 acres of land were burned and more than 3000 homes lost — along with almost $6B in lost business, medical costs and transportation system, watershed protection and infrastructure damage.
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