How You Unknowingly Start Wildfires

By Al Macias
Published: Monday, June 16, 2014 - 5:40pm
Updated: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - 10:48am
Al Macias -- KJZZ News
A chain on your car could start a wildfire.

Humans cause the vast majority of fires in Arizona, but a lot of those fires start in ways you may not suspect. 

Of the 700 blazes reported in Arizona so far this year, more than 650 are considered human caused.  While untended campfires and cigarettes cause some fires, there’s another source, according to Dolores Garcia with the Bureau of Land Management. She said people pulling off the highway don’t realize that some of the elements underneath their vehicle can get up to 1,000 degrees.

"Grass ignites at 500 degrees," she said.  "So a lot of people will pull off the road not thinking about it. They’re in a grassy area, pull out of the area, continue the journey and don't realize they may have started a fire behind them."

Garcia said a 500- acre fire last year along Interstate 17 was started by a motorist who stopped in a grassy area.  

This summer, Forest Service and BLM officials are trying to raise awareness that sparks from vehicles dragging chains, power tools or even gunfire can also ignite a fire.