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Rise in Human-Caused Wildfires Raises Concerns in Oregon and Washington

Data released by the US Forest Service has highlighted a noticeable surge in wildfires ignited by human activity in National Forest lands across Oregon and Washington states this year. The figures reveal that between June 1 and July 28, there were 197 reported fire starts attributed to human actions or causes that could not be determined. This marks a significant increase from 2022’s count of 409 human-caused fires and 2021’s tally of 494 in these regions.

While the reasons for this uptick remain uncertain, the Forest Service emphasizes that such fires are preventable. In Seattle, the fire department witnessed a substantial rise in brush and bark fire responses, with 298 cases in July compared to 113 in the same month of 2022. Authorities are cautioning that the ongoing wildfire season in the Pacific Northwest may surpass that of other regions.

As a response, the Forest Service has enforced restrictions on activities such as campfires and smoking since August 16, extending to all forms of fires even in developed campgrounds. US public lands are overseen by various state, local, and federal agencies, including the National Parks Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Affairs.