The Warming City: The Increasing Risk of Summer Fires in Delhi

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Rising temperatures are mainly associated with wildfires, but the incidence of fire may also increase in the urban context. Yet, fire in Delhi, India, as elsewhere in the towns and cities of the Global South, remains largely invisible, despite the nearly 11 million people each year who are burnt severely enough to require medical attention. This paper focuses on whether summer temperatures in Delhi are rising and whether higher temperatures and lower humidity contribute to a greater number of fires in urban areas. The data strongly suggest a relationship between the warming city, a growing number of summer fires, and mounting temperatures around the world. Delhi, however, is only one example of an urban reality that is common to much of the Global South. Similar questions about the incidence of fire and whether the number is increasing need to be asked of other towns and cities that share the same vulnerabilities.