Wildfires spread rapidly and can destroy not just forests but entire communities. They have raged through forests, prairies, savannas, and other ecosystems for hundreds of millions of years. However, with more people living in wildfire-prone landscapes near the wilderness, protecting public and private land from wildfires has become more challenging.

Wildland fire, or wildfire, is a general term to describe any fire not related to structures within the environment of vegetation and natural fuels.

These fires can be characterized by their ignition causes, physical properties, the flammable materials present, and the effects of weather on fire.

Wildfire History

Wildfire Facts

Studies estimate that approximately 85% of wildfires in the United States are caused by human causes, including arson, unattended campfires, trash fires, and discharged cigarettes.

The US Forest Service spends approximately $1.2 billion annually in California to suppress fires. Unfortunately, funding means the U.S. Forest Service must divert earmarked funds for wildfire prevention and other divisional activities toward fighting wildfires.

Wildfires have grown more intense over the years, partly because of droughts and past wildfire suppression policies that allowed increased fuel loads to build up on the land. They are also becoming more lethal and destructive because of an increasing number of people living within fire-prone areas. As a result, these fires are igniting more easily, spreading faster at hotter temperatures, and destroying homes in unprecedented numbers.

The Top 5 list below describes the costliest fires in US history. All but one of the fires on this list occurred this century.

Top 5 Costliest Wildland Fires

Top 5 Costliest Wildland Fires In The United States

Estimated insured loss in millions (adjusted for inflation)


2018 Camp Fire $10,750


2017 Tubbs Fire 9,560


2018 Woolsey Fire 4,520


1991 Oakland Fire (Tunnel) 3,350


2017 Atlas Fire 3,300


Wildfires are a fact of life. When fire damages your home, contact the CPPA Firm FIRST!