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Arsonists Cause 1 in 5 California Wildfires


With summer underway, California residents are aware of the persistent risk of fire damage to their homes, especially from wildfires. Many do not know, however, that many of these fires are done deliberately out of malice. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 1 in 5 wildfires have been attributed to arson since 2007. Just last year, over 1000 wildfires were started deliberately.

Scorched area of an arson-caused fire in 2006
Scorched area of an arson-caused fire in 2006

“We investigate all fires, and arson is one potential cause of many,” said CalFire Investigator Jennifer Ricci, adding, “There has to be an ignition source. That's our job — to figure out that ignition source.”

One individual that was recently arrested is connected to nearly 11 wildfires since 2012.

“To commit arson during these drought conditions is an exceptionally heinous act and we will seek prosecution to the fullest extent under the law,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, director of CalFire.

Regardless of the source, once the fire gets going, it’s a challenge to stop. It’s important that California residents be prepared for any fire regardless of source.

“All fires are destructive,” said Ricci, adding, “Whatever causes that fire, the end result is the same. The fire doesn't know the difference.”

According to the National Fire Protection Association, arson is the most frequent cause of household fire damage other than fires from appliances such as heating and cooking devices. Deliberate fires are usually done with either destructive intent or the intent to collect insurance money.

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