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Cause of Most US Wildfires Traced to Human Activity, Study Finds

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study blames people for triggering five out of every six wildfires in the United States and tripling the length of the wildfire season.

Even as climate change worsens the nation’s fire season — making it longer and easier to burn more acres — researchers say human activities play an even bigger role.

Scientists looking at fire data from 1992 to 2012 found that 84 percent of all U.S. wildfires were started by people, either by accident or on purpose. Human-caused blazes only burned 44 percent of the total acres.

University of Colorado fire ecologist Jennifer Balch found that human-sparked fires increased the fire season from 46 days to 154 days.

The study appears in Monday’s journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.