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The Top Cause Of Oregon Wildfires? It's Not Lightning

Shlomo Shalev

Of all the causes of forest fires, people are the “wild card”, says the president of a fire prevention and safety education group.

Kris Babbs of Keep Oregon Green says lightning causes one-third of wildfires.  She says these are fairly predictable, because technology allows firefighting agencies to track and locate lightning strikes.  But people – who cause 70% of wildfires – have more opportunity, year-round.

“In fact, Oregon Department of Forestry’s database categorizes over 120 specific human-caused fire ignitions,' said Babbs. 

Credit Almos Bechtold / Unsplash

"Lightning on the other hand, is restricted to just a few months during the summer, and it’s at this critical time when fighters are super busy chasing multiple strikes and short blasts across the landscape that we ask people to be really careful and not add to a firefighter’s workload with more accidental fires.”

Babbs advises people to check their cars, lawnmowers, and other tools that could overheat or give off sparks, and also ensure their campfires are completely out.

Copyright 2021, KLCC. 

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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