2021 Saw Highest Number of Wildfires and the Most Acres Burned
Every year has been the worst fire season on record. 2021, according to the Department of Interior, is now the year that saw the highest number of reported wildfires, the most acres burned, and a record number of days with high fire danger.
Reporting on fires has begun to sound like a broken record: fires are getting worse and fire season is getting longer. In fact, many government agencies are hesitant to even call it “fire season” anymore. Fire season is now year-long.
Fires in the West
In 2021, 48,487 wildfires burned more than 6.5 million acres. 15 wildland firefighters and 33 civilians lost their lives. 4,818 structures were destroyed. The states that saw the most fires and the most destruction went in this order: California, Montana, Oregon, Arizona, and Washington.
According to Cal Fire, California saw 2,569,009 acres burned, 8,619 incidents, three fatalities, and 3,629 structures damaged or destroyed. The Dixie Fire, Monument Fire, and Caldor Fire burned the most acreage and made the most headlines.
Montana, like most of the other states in the West, is experiencing expansive drought and saw a very active wildfire season. The worst fire there was the Richard Spring Fire which burned a whopping 171,130 acres.
In Oregon, more than million acres were burned over the 2021 fire season. There were nine fatalities and over 4,000 homes destroyed. The Bootleg Fire burned an incredible 413,717 acres and was the largest fire the country had ever seen until the Dixie Fire sparked in California.
The Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management has declared the fact that there is no set “fire season” anymore in the state. Arizona fires in 2021 burned 22% more acreage than in 2020. The most destructive fire there was the Telegraph Fire which burned 180,757 acres and destroyed 51 structures.
Washington’s biggest wildfire was the Schneider Springs Fire in Yakima County that burned more than 107,000 acres.
The vast majority of these fires, most wildfires really, were human-caused, (88% on average from 2016-2020) which is a harsh reality. While most human-caused fires are accidental, it shows how careful everyone has to be when fire danger is high. While the number of human-caused fires hit a record in 2021, it was lightning-caused wildfires that burned the most acreage, according to the Interior.
The good news is that the Biden-Harris Administration is working with Congress to better support our overworked firefighters and “defend communities and ecosystems from the threat of wildfire.”
Jeff Rupert, the Director of the Office of Wildland Fire, provided testimony on the future of wildfires at a House subcommittee hearing on proposed wildland firefighting workforce reforms and at a Senate committee hearing on improving forest health and wildland fire management.
President Biden recently signed a historic $3.3 billion investment in wildfire management.
What Can We Do?
Home and business owners should do everything they can to support firefighters and first responders in their communities. The best way to do that is to prepare your property for wildfire.
By utilizing home hardening tactics, you can help deter destruction and slow fire from spreading when it occurs, because fires will occur.
Home hardening tactics include:
- Clearing defensible space
- Installing fire-safe vent screens
- Installing gutter guards
- Installing external roof sprinklers
- Spraying season-long fire retardant
Let us help you prepare for 2022. With a home evaluation, we can tell you what your home or business needs most to be fire ready. Even in the winter months there are things you can do to prepare for “fire season,” and we can help.
Schedule a home evaluation today and be prepared for tomorrow.