On Saturday evening, I glanced outside to view a pale orange sun and an ashy smoke covered sky inciting me to grab my camera and dash outside for a few shots. The cause of this dark pall into the sky above the Los Angeles skyline was one of many wildfires in the Santa Clarita Valley. The fires have grown to more than 20,000 acres triggering evacuations for hundreds of families in the canyon.smoke_Fotors

Over the years, California’s biggest and most destructive wildfires have been sparked in a number of ways – originating with runaway campfires, lightning storms, and arsonists. In Santa Clarita right now, according to experts, the fire’s rapid growth is fueled by excessive heat, low humidity, extreme dry fuels that have not burned for several decades, and very rugged terrain. Fanned by gusts of up to 40 mph, the fire burned more than 2,000 acres overnight.punch_Fotorhd

“Weather doesn’t cause fires. It’s the people that have the role of actually preventing that fire.”

While fires may be caused by lightning strikes and other naturally occurring events, it is estimated that over 80 percent of wildfires are direct results of human error. Unattended campfires and discarded cigarettes are a few of the common man-made causes and they can destroy thousands of acres and endanger millions of lives.20160723_185126_Fotors

In 2013, an illegal campfire that burned out of control ended up burning 257,314 acres in and near Yosemite National Park. That same year sparks from a rifle fired at a target on private land led to a fire that consumed 3,111 acres on Mount Diablo. In 2007, sparks from a fallen power line lit a blaze that burned more than 200,000 acres and killed two people. California is losing nearly 90,000 acres a year (equivalent to the size of Las Vegas) to wildfires.

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One man near Redding, CA cut dry grass during hot weather and generated sparks – after ignoring warnings not to mow and telling one concerned passerby, “Go to hell!” Sparks from the lawnmower started a fire that destroyed 110 buildings and 10,484 acres. The man was sentenced to four years in prison and served two. sun_Fotor



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