Different factors for different causes: analysis of the spatial aggregations of fire ignitions in Catalonia (Spain)
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The present study analyzes the effects of different socioeconomic factors on the frequency of fire ignition occurrence, according to different original causes. The data include a set of documented ignition points in the region of Catalonia for the period 1995–2008. The analysis focused on the spatial
aggregation patterns of the ignitions for each specific ignition cause. The point‐based data on ignitions were interpolated into municipality‐level information using kernel methods as the basis for defining five ignition density levels. Afterwards, the combination of socioeconomic factors influencing the ignition density levels of the municipalities was analyzed for each documented cause of ignition using a principal component analysis. The obtained results confirmed the idea that both the spatial aggregation patterns of fire ignitions and the factors defining their occurrence were specific for each of the causes of ignition. Intentional fires and those of unknown origin were found to have similar spatial aggregation patterns, and the presence of high ignition density areas was related to high population and high unemployment rates. Additionally, it was found that fires originated from forest work, agricultural activities, pasture burning, and lightning had a very specific behavior on their own, differing from the similarities found on the spatial aggregation of ignitions originated from smokers, electric lines, machinery, campfires, and those of intentional or unknown origin.