The main causes of bush fires in Western Australia are:
•Accidents, such as vehicle fires.
•Human carelessness, for example, from discarded cigarette butts or escapes from campfires.
It is not possible to completely eradicate bushfires. Even if there were no accidents, and no acts of human carelessness or incendiarism, bushfires would still be started by lightning, as they were for many millennia before the arrival of humans on the Australian continent. However, we can minimize the number of human-caused fire ignitions by public awareness programs, and much effort has been devoted to this over many years. Despite this effort, we still have large numbers of arson ignitions each fire season.
Sadly, the number of incidents of arson has increased significantly in recent years, which would indicate that there is a limit to the value of education programs. It is possible that a dramatic increase in the penalties for arson might reduce its incidence, but it is most unlikely to eliminate it. Arsonists are frequently not rational and do not weigh the possible consequences of their actions against likely penalties. Furthermore, in the current international political climate, we have to consider the possibility that terrorists might use arson as part of a disruptive program.
If we accept that there will still be a serious number of bushfire ignitions each fire season, then the next best thing we can do is to minimize their impact by suppressing them while they are small or managing the forest fuel in a strategic way to minimize the intensity of fires that do occur.