Wildfires are exploding across the West again. So far this year 3.3 million acres have burned. While slightly below last year’s acreage, it is very much a concern.
Rising temperatures, drought and — what the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) said is — a buildup of forest fuels are the cause. The agency said those fuels are causing supercharged fires.
To date this year — including several fires in California, Oregon, Washington and Nevada — 2,600 homes have been destroyed. Worse, nine firefighters have died so far. That compares to 14 killed in all of 2017.
And last year — as you remember — is the second-worst fire season in history with over 10 million acres impacted.
Since the wildfires are an ongoing story and this is a weekly publication, it’s hard to be more specific about this fire or that until the fires are under control.
Here’s more statistics from the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of the Interior:
• The number of wildfires larger than 25,000 acres has nearly quadrupled from 2004 to 2014 when compared to the 1980s
• The number of homes destroyed in wildfires almost tripled from 2016 to 2017
• That number is 12,242
The National Weather Service said drought is the driver of the conditions found in the PIA Western Alliance states of Arizona and New Mexico and in Colorado. And all of California is facing abnormally dry conditions. The start of the fire season for California is the worst in 10-years with 220,421 acres burned as of Thursday of last week.
One wildfire we are tracking is in Nevada. It has burned over 700 square miles and has engaged 600 firefighters.
Jennifer Jones of the NIFC said the higher temperatures and the droughts have extended the wildfire season by 60 to 80-days each year. “We’re not calling it a fire season anymore, we’re referring to a fire year,” she said.
Source links: Associated Press, Reuters