The majority of forest fires are caused by human activities. In 2006, 83% of forest fires were started by human activity, burning 4.4 million acres. However, lightning strikes also start a significant amount of forest fires as well.
The most common cause of wildfires varies throughout the world. By far, the greatest cause of wild fires in the western US has been lightning strikes. Also in Canada, and northwest China, lightning is the major source of ignition. In other parts of the world, human error is a major contributor. In Mexico, Central America, South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, Fiji, and New Zealand, wildfires can be attributed to human activities such as animal husbandry, agriculture, and land-conversion burning. Human carelessness is a major cause of wildfires in China. In Australia, the source of wildfires can be traced to both lightning strikes and human activities such as machinery sparks and cast-away cigarette butts.
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