On an average day in the period 1996–2005, more than 85 outdoor fires were recorded in the Netherlands. Nearly half concerned rubbish fires, for example in containers. Two-thirds of rubbish fires were caused by arson and vandalism.
Rubbish fires mainly on 31 December and 1 January
Most rubbish fires (87 percent) occurred in places open to the public at large.
Arson turned out to be the main cause. No less than one in five rubbish fires occurred on 31 December or 1 January.
Besides 43 rubbish fires every day, there were fifteen countryside and roadside fires and thirteen car fires on an average day in the past decade.
Rubbish fires common in highly urbanised regions
In municipalities with a very high urbanisation rate, outdoor fires are often rubbish fires, accounting for more than 60 percent of outdoor fires, as against only some 20 percent in municipalities with a very low urbanisation rate.
Outdoor fires by urbanisation rate municipalities 1996-2005
Countryside and roadside fires depend on meteorological conditions
In the dry years 1996 and 2003, there were more than 10 thousand countryside and roadside fires. Annual precipitation in these years approximated 600 mm, as against 800 mm for an average year. In 1998, there were only 3 thousand countryside and roadside fires. With more than 1,000 mm of rainfall, 1998 was a very wet year.
Strikingly, there were few countryside and roadside fires in 1997, although precipitation totalled only 648 mm in the summer months, when – traditionally – the risk of outdoor fires is highest.
Countryside and roadside fires relative to precipitation
Rudolf Timmermans and Wim Vissers