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Deliberately Lit Vegetation Fires in Australia

NCJ Number
Colleen Bryant
Date Published
February 2008
6 pages
This paper summarizes key findings from a study of vegetation arson fires in Australia in terms of their prevalence, when and where they occur, and how their distribution varies according to natural and human factors.
Firefighters are dispatched to between 45,000 and 60,000 vegetation fires every year, accounting for 40-50 percent of all fires. Just over 90 percent of vegetation fires are the result of people's action, most often being deliberately set. Most of these fires occur where human populations have moved into housing established in wooded and natural landscapes. Between one-third and one-half of all vegetation fires occur in and around the capital city of a State or Territory, with the greatest concentration occurring in the "urban interface" (the zone where people and vegetation coexist and interact). These fires tend to occur on the outer edges of urban areas. Most of these fires coincide with the high-risk period related to season and weather (dry seasons of spring and summer). Most are set on Saturday and Sunday, with a higher proportion of deliberate fires occurring between 6 pm and 6 am. Among the recommendations offered for prevention efforts are improved collection and integration of key data on vegetation fires in order to inform policy and practice, the targeting of police patrols at times and places when vegetation fires are most likely to be set (at urban interfaces at later hours on weekends), and education for the general public and specific audiences regarding the harms/dangers of vegetation fires. 5 references


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