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In China and in the Mediterranean Basin, human carelessness is a major cause of wildfires.
In the United States and Australia, the source of wildfires can be traced both to lightning strikes and to human activities (such as machinery sparks, cast-away cigarette butts, or arson)." Coal seam fires burn in the thousands around the world, such as those in Burning Mountain, New South Wales; Centralia, Pennsylvania; and several coal-sustained fires in China.
In other parts of the world, human involvement is a major contributor.
In Africa, Central America, Fiji, Mexico, New Zealand, South America, and Southeast Asia, wildfires can be attributed to human activities such as agriculture, animal husbandry, and land-conversion burning.
Because they are highly flammable, they can increase the future risk of fire, creating a positive feedback loop that increases fire frequency and further alters native vegetation communities.
In the Amazon Rainforest, drought, logging, cattle ranching practices, and slash-and-burn agriculture damage fire-resistant forests and promote the growth of flammable brush, creating a cycle that encourages more burning.
They can also flare up unexpectedly and ignite nearby flammable material.
Invasive species, such as Lygodium microphyllum and Bromus tectorum, can grow rapidly in areas that were damaged by fires.
Wildfires are fanned by these winds and often follow the air currents over hills and through valleys.
Such places include the vegetated areas of Australia and Southeast Asia, the veld in southern Africa, the fynbos in the Western Cape of South Africa, the forested areas of the United States and Canada, and the Mediterranean Basin.
The most common cause of wildfires varies throughout the world.
In Canada and northwest China, for example, lightning operates as the major source of ignition.