Dark smoke over the dessert horizon.
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This time of year means long, sunny days and the infamous Arizona heat. Unfortunately, it also means wildfire season across the Western United States. 

Arizona has seen some terrible wildfires in years past. The 10 largest wildfires in our state’s history have all happened in the last 20 years. Last year was particularly bad as Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management officials report that 2,520 wildfires burned 978,519 acres of the state, federal and tribal lands in 2020. Eighty-two percent of those fires were human caused.

Earlier this summer, the Telegraph Fire burned more than 180,000 acres and made the list for the top 10 largest wildfires in our state’s history. Fortunately, the rainy MONSOON has put a damper on wildfires across the state and helped with drought conditions as well.

Wildfire Facts:

• Number of states battling wildfires: 13

• Largest wildfire ever in AZ: Wallow (2011)

• Firefighters battling Bootleg Fire: 2,300

However, this summer has also seen some pretty terrible wildfires in other parts of the Western United States. In Oregon, the Bootleg Fire has burned more than 600 square miles this summer, driven by months of drought and last month’s heat wave. When it comes to wildfires, normally the weather influences the wildfire, such as wind making it harder to fight the fire. The Bootleg Fire is burning so hot and generating so much energy that it’s actually changing the weather!

There are other wildfires burning in a dozen other states as well. The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reports that there are other large wildfires burning in Alaska, Idaho and Minnesota. The NFIC reports that 82 large fires have burned more than 1.7 million acres this year. Almost 22,000 firefighters and support personnel are battling the blazes, with more than 10 percent of those firefighters battling Oregon’s Bootleg Fire.

The wildfires affect the land for decades to come, pose a threat to wildlife and humans, and destroy homes and buildings. The large wildfires this summer have also sent smoke nearly 3,000 miles away. Smoke settled as far away as Philadelphia, New York, and in the eastern parts of Canada.

Edition: 
Phoenix
Tucson
Issue: 
August 2021