Jul 28, 2017

Wildfire Season Is Scorching the West

Oregon
Nevada
Idaho
California
Montana
USA
by
Andrea Thompson
,
Climate Central
Smoke rises from the Goodwin Fire, which burned more than 28,000 acres in Arizona through mid-July. Photo: Prescott National Forest, flickr
Smoke rises from the Goodwin Fire, which burned more than 28,000 acres in Arizona through mid-July. Photo: Prescott National Forest, flickr

The West is ablaze as the summer wildfire season has gotten off to an intense start. More than 37,000 fires have burned more than 5.2 million acres nationally since the beginning of the year, with 47 large fires burning across nine states as of Friday.

The relatively early activity is quickly becoming the norm, with rising temperatures making the fire season longer than it used to be. The warming fueled by greenhouse gases is also helping to create more and larger fires as it dries out more vegetation that acts as fuel for fires.

This new fire situation means that western states need to be begin to rethink how they prepare for and combat fires, as well as how fire-prone land is developed.

Five large fires (those of 1,000 acres or more) are currently raging across California, the largest of which is the Detwiler fire near Yosemite National Park, which has burned more than 80,000 acres since it ignited on July 16. That fire is now 75 percent contained, but it destroyed dozens of buildings, including 63 homes.