26 Nov 2019
How do most bushfires start in Australia?

How do most bushfires start in Australia?

How do bushfires start in Australia?

Hot, windy and dry weather certainly influences and increases the risk of bushfires. But what are the most common causes of a fire actually starting?

They’re mainly from human-related incidents, according to data from the Australian Institute of Criminology (the Institute)1.

It reports that the majority of bushfires are started either intentionally or unintentionally, by people.

The Institute found the top attribution was “suspicious” followed by “accidental”.2: Suspicious 37%

  • Accidental 35%
  • Deliberate 13%
  • Natural 6%
  • Reignition/spot 5%
  • Other 4%

Billowing smoke in the distance near power lines and trees

RELATED: How to prepare for a bushfire in Australia

Here are some of the most common causes for bushfires in Australia, according to fire investigators3:

  • Smoking or a discarded cigarette butt
  • Burning off/debris
  • Arson

The Institute says while figures vary, around half of all bushfires in Australia are either known to be deliberately lit or are considered suspicious.

  • Railway cause

Albeit surprising, trains can be a cause a bushfire, the ABC says. Burning carbon embers from train engine exhausts or brake failure can throw sparks which can ignite dry vegetation near the tracks. Other causes include:

  • Campfires
  • Equipment use including chainsaws, mowers and angle grinders
  • Lightning
  • Miscellaneous including power lines, glass refraction, electric fences and more

RELATED: What to do in bushfire

One of the most critical parts of extreme weather preparation is ensuring you have the correct home insurance policy and a clear understanding of exactly how you’re covered.

RELATED: Bushfire danger ratings explained

Natural disasters and extreme weather are unpredictable and unfortunately may be more likely to effect certain locations. 
If you live in an area that’s prone to bushfire, it’s worthwhile considering the role your insurance cover may play in getting you back to normal, especially if you need to make a claim. 

Read here about how to make an extreme weather claim.


This advice is general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs and may not be right for you. You must decide whether or not it is appropriate, in light of your own circumstances, to act on this advice. To decide if QBE’s products are right for you, please ensure you obtain and consider the Policy Wording or Product Disclosure Statements and Target Market Determinations, available online at QBE.com/au. Insurance issued and underwritten by QBE Insurance (Australia) Limited (ABN 78 003 191 035, AFSL 239545).

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