Each summer, Wildfire Season works like cruel clockwork on the residents of the American West. And each year, as the climate continues to change, American wildfires continue to get more intense, and the season unfortunately for those living in the affected areas and for the tireless wildland firefighters battling them, continues to get longer. Wildfire Season 2021 has been no exception.
English publication, The Guardian, highlights that:
“What the US Forest Service once characterized as a four-month-long fire season starting in late summer and early autumn now stretches into six to eight months of the year. Wildfires are starting earlier, burning more intensely and scorching swaths of land larger than ever before.”
The paper went on to note that:
“More than half of the 20 largest fires in California history burned in just the last four years. Eight of the top 20 fires in Oregon occurred in that time frame too. Last year, Arizona saw the most acres burned in its history.”
In just 2021 alone, there have been tens of thousands of wildfires across the Western United States.
Buzzfeed News has created a Wildfire Tracker which has documented the following as of October 18th:
- 47,525 wildfires have burned thus far in 2021, compared to 46,148 in all of 2020
- So far, 6,494,054 acres have burned in the process
According to Buzz Feed’s tracker, one of the largest fires in America has been the Monument Fire in Northern California which began burning in July and lasted for months, with the state’s last update coming in the first week of October. In total, 223,124 acres were burned, and hundreds of firefighters were called to battle the blaze.
But America’s largest fire in 2021 has been nearly four times the size as the Monument Fire! According to California’s government fire services portal, the Dixie Fire, located across five counties (Butte, Plumas, Shasta, Lassen and Tehama) began burning on July 13th. The alert system for the Dixie fire, last updated on October 2nd, reports that with 94% of the fire contained, a staggering 963,276 acres of land had been consumed by the blaze. The fire wreaked havoc on the affected areas, damaging over a thousand structures (including burning down over 600 homes), forcing mass evacuations, and even led to Salt Lake City, Utah having the worst air quality in the world!
Fortunately, the massive Dixie blaze did not cause any fatal casualties, but these two massive blazes in California alone remind us of the fatal conditions that our nation’s wildland firefighters face year in and year out battling these apocalyptic fires.In total, nearly a dozen states have been afflicted with wildfires thus far, and fires springing up in Virginia and again in California in the early days of the fall season are stark reminders that Wildfire Season in America is far from over in 2021.
Image Credit: Photo by Marcus Kauffman on Unsplash