Wildfires have burned 5.6 million acres across the US this year, and concern is growing amid a heatwave

California didn’t have a typical megafire with a six-figure acreage this year, but massive blazes across the U.S. have collectively made 2022 a contender for one of the hottest years of the past decade.

The week’s ongoing heatwave, which is expected to create suffocating conditions and triple-digit temperatures for parts of the Southeast, Northwest and some regions in between, has the potential to start or amplify additional fires.

The fires had burned 5.6 million acres nationwide as of Tuesday, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, about double last year and three times the number in 2020. The country’s 84 major fires still active as of Tuesday are responsible for a majority of the hectares – more than 3 million – burned so far this year.

Only two other years in the past decade have had land losses of over 5 million acres as of July 26: 2017 with 5.2 million acres and 2015 with 5.6 million acres.

By the end of 2015, 10.13 million acres had been burned — the most since 1960, data from the National Interagency Coordination Center shows. The years 2020 and 2017 follow in second and third place.

Federal officials on Tuesday warned of fertile coast-to-coast fire conditions, reminding people that human action is the most common ignition source for wildfires.

“As record temperatures and very dry fuels continue to be reported in many states, wilderness firefighters need everyone to do their part to prevent wildfires,” the National Interagency Fire Center said in a statement.

More than 34,000 of the more than 38,000 wildfires in the US to date have been caused by human activity, the center said.

Firefighters clear hot spots Monday while battling the oak tree fire in the Jerseydale community of Mariposa County, California.
Firefighters clear hot spots Monday while battling the oak tree fire in the Jerseydale community of Mariposa County, California.Noah Berger/AP

Federal officials are eyeing major fires across the West, including two new blazes in Montana as well as the Idaho Elk Fire, which has burned more than 37,000 acres since it began July 17.

California’s largest fire this year, the 18,000-acre Mariposa County oak fire, was 26% contained Tuesday as firefighters slowed movement south and focused on the fire’s advance into the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Though 41 buildings have been destroyed so far, the fire in recent days has not shown the explosive growth it showed in the first 24 hours, as it grew from a 60-acre dust on Friday to a 12,000-acre kettle on Saturday . Its cloud could be seen from space.

Federal, state and local firefighters and support teams, numbering more than 400, have drawn a line to halt the progress of the Oak Fire at Footman Ridge, about 50 miles west-southwest of Yosemite National Park, officials said.

“It’s extremely hot, it’s extremely steep terrain, but no one gave up,” Justin Macomb, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s division chief for the region, said in a video briefing on Tuesday.

But California, which has experienced a string of years with fires in the six figures, has so far this year avoided fires the size of recent history’s behemoths, including 2020’s August Complex Fire, which alone accounted for the scorching of was responsible for more than 1 million acres.

It’s not clear why this year has been less riotous in the state. Fire years have generally gotten worse in step with climate change and the planet’s continued warming.

A 2009 analysis published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management concluded that most of the regions of the world it surveyed will soon “be subject to moderate fire potential year-round” rather than just a few months in summer and fall.

The idea is consistent with California’s recent fire seasons in Washington, Oregon and New Mexico.

How climate change has helped produce most of the planet’s 10 hottest years since the early 2010sit also helped create ideal firing temperatures and ideal fuel on the ground—dry, brittle, and ready for exothermic reactions.

That The 10 Biggest Wildfires in California have all happened since 2010 too.

With possible record high temperatures and the lightning forecast for some areas of the Pacific Northwest this week, officials in Oregon and Washington are urging residents to be vigilant.

Washington State Department of Transportation tweeted Tuesday, “Don’t park in the tall grass” so your car doesn’t start a fire.

The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center for Wildfires, based in Portland, Oregon, said in a statement Tuesday: “Southwestern Oregon, central and eastern [areas] will have significant fire potential due to hot, dry weather throughout the week.

It warned of a possible “high risk of new significant fires”.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/wildfires-burned-56-million-acres-us-year-concerns-are-growing-heatwav-rcna40152 Wildfires have burned 5.6 million acres across the US this year, and concern is growing amid a heatwave

Fry Electronics Team

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